Alex Campbell's breakout 2018-19 campaign might have put him on a path to the NHL, but it didn’t cause him to change course.
After the Predators drafted Campbell in the third round (65th overall) last June, the undersized left winger followed through on his plan to play this season with USHL Omaha before moving on to NCAA Clarkson. “Before the draft I had the mindset of going to Omaha and then Clarkson the year after,” Campbell said. “(The Predators) had a bit of a say, but they agreed with where I decided to go and were really happy with the decision I made. So I really didn’t have to make any adjustments at all.”
The thinking is that a season in the USHL will ease Campbell’s transition to U.S. college hockey and give him the time and training necessary to add bulk to his 5-foot-10, 160-pound frame. To that end, he has altered his diet and made regular appearances in the weight room with the hopes of finishing the season heavier than he started.
The move to the USHL has also afforded Campbell the opportunity to add to his growing reputation as a point producer. From the outset, he has skated on one of Omaha’s top lines. He notched a goal in his first game and was the team’s leading scorer in the early weeks of the season. “With a player like him, there’s really no rush,” said Predators assistant GM Jeff Kealty. “He’s a really skilled, competitive player but he needs to get stronger. So it’s not a bad plan to go there, develop, get stronger and be that much more prepared to step up next year and contribute at college.”
Campbell was barely on the prospect radar a year ago, but he caught the attention of NHL teams and talent evaluators when he poured in 67 points in 53 games for BCHL Victoria. “It wasn’t something I expected at all,” he said of his breakthrough. “It kind of all came at me in one year, so I’m just super happy and super grateful for it. It’s definitely been a surreal year. I’m just trying to build off of it.” – David Boclair