NHL Prospect Profile: Jack Campbell

Each day in the lead-up to the NHL Draft on June 25-26 in Los Angeles, Yahoo! Sports will feature one of the Central Scouting Bureau’s Top 100 North American prospects from the Canadian Hockey League.

Jack Campbell believes he’s on a fast track to being a NHL goaltender.

Campbell, who is NHL Central Scouting’s second-ranked goaltender for the entry draft, will be among the Ontario Hockey League’s most high-profile newcomers when the Windsor Spitfires begin training camp. After all, as a member of the U.S. national team development program, he won three IIHF gold medals in a span of 12 months. Campbell sandwiched triumphs in the under-18 championships around getting the W in the Americans’ overtime win over Canada in the world junior gold-medal game in January.

Suffice to say, he has every reason to be brimming with confidence. He certainly was in November when he explained his choice of the Spitfires over the Michigan Wolverines by saying, “My goal is to be playing in the National Hockey League within a year or two, and I did not want to put Michigan’s hockey program in a bad position where I left after one season.”

The road to being a No. 1 netminder in the NHL is typically much longer for a goalie taken in the first round (stick tap: Chris Dilks). That said, Campbell’s confidence is pretty admirable.

Next season, Campbell will be joining a Spitfires team that should be fun to follow, for the mere fact it will be trying to match the standard of the back-to-back MasterCard Memorial Cup championship teams with sufficiently less talent.

Fun fact: Campbell shares his name with a science-fiction writer who once published a book called Victorious. You don’t say.

1. How would you say your past season progressed, from start to finish?

“I was fortunate to have played on three great U.S. teams, tremendous teammates, tremendous coaching staffs. It was a lot of fun to be part of those three different teams and three different world championships.”

2. What is your take on the choice players face between the Canadian Hockey League and NCAA?

“For at least myself, I want to play in the NHL and for me, the best route was the CHL. But my advice for them [other players] is to make their own decisions, based on what type of person they are. You can make it through college and you can make it through the CHL like Kenny Ryan and Cam Fowler [who spurned the NCAA for the Spitfires] are doing.”

3. In your mind, what would scouts say you have to work on between now and when you’ll be on the cusp of turning pro?

“I would say my patience when it comes to making the first save and the recovery. It’s technical, but that’s what comes to mind. It’s about making the first save and staying down. I get too excited and I want the puck too bad sometimes so I don’t use the proper recovery. In the world juniors, as you saw, I was really scrambly against Canada. I’ve really learned from that, worked hard and now I’ve eliminated that problem.”

3. What was the most surprising question you were asked when you interviewed with teams at the NHL Scouting Combine?

“No one really asked anything surprising, but I thought New Jersey was probably one of the toughest. They didn’t really smile at all, but that’s fine.”

4. What is your proudest hockey achievement?

“The under-18 championship in Belarus [in May] was the most special to me because I worked two years for it with a great group of guys [in the U.S. NTDP program].”

5. Favourite TV show or movie?

“’Invincible’. It was pretty inspirational.”

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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