BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Dallas Stars had an ongoing goaltending controversy throughout last year.
While neither Antti Niemi nor Kari Lehtonen could seize the starting job, it was largely thought that while the struggles were real this year, there was at least the idea that Goalie Of The Future Jack Campbell™ could be there to take over from them one day soon.
Now, not so much.
Campbell, a pending RFA who hasn't played in the NHL since a single game in 2013-14, went to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Nick Ebert early in the fourth round, though no picks were exchanged.
Ebert, 22, projects as a low-scoring defender, having compiled just 10 goals and 26 points across two partial AHL seasons. He was a Kings seventh-round pick in 2012.
Meanwhile, this trade could serve to highlight just how far Campbell's prospects have fallen. The former No. 11 overall pick (2010) not only has just one NHL appearance since his draft year, he has also been rather poor even in the lower levels. His 2014-15 AHL save percentage was .907 in 35 games, and it plummeted to .884 in 19 last season. He actually had more appearances in the ECHL — and hey! he dominated to the tune of .944.
People in Texas seemed to think this was a mindset problem for Campbell. He was sent down from the A in December, and recalled again in late February. From then on, he was a roughly .918 goalie in the AHL, albeit in just seven appearances.
Clearly, Los Angeles is hoping he can build on that late performance next year. This is a low-risk move for the Kings, because if Campbell becomes anything like what he was projected as five or six years ago, the cost of an own-zone AHL defender is a low one.
Of course, you never know with goalies, even when they're the “Of The Future” variety.
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