BUFFALO – “Humble.”
That’s how Alex Newhook and Alexander Campbell described each other at the NHL Draft combine in Buffalo. And it’s clear why: they seemed more interested in praising the other than addressing their own successes. Newhook and Campbell created one of the most lethal duos in junior hockey with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, combining for 169 points in a league typically dominated by 20-year-old players who are a couple years their senior.
Newhook, committed to Boston College for 2019-20, is projected to challenge for a top-10 spot in the NHL draft. It’s uncommon to see Jr. A players go so early, but it has happened. Among the more notable examples: in 2016, three BCHLers – Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Dennis Cholowski – were picked in the first round. In 2007, Kyle Turris went to the Arizona Coyotes, then known as the Phoenix Coyotes, at No. 3.
Newhook and Campbell shared a lot of the same experiences this year. They represented Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge and played together at the CJHL top prospects game. In back-to-back campaigns, Newhook and Campbell, respectively, have led BCHL rookies in assists, with Campbell holding a one-point edge with 45 this year. But outside of a lone meeting in Quebec last summer, the pair didn’t know each other prior to joining forces in Victoria. At the time, Newhook was still unsure of whether he’d return to the Grizzlies.
“We had a really good year together, and I think the chemistry all started off the ice, too (with linemate Riley Hughes),” Campbell said. “We all went to school together, so we became really close that way and I think that translated on the ice.”
Campbell, the 43rd-ranked prospect in North America by NHL Central Scouting, has nothing but praise for his linemate and friend.
“He’s so down to earth,” Campbell said. “Such a humble guy, treats everyone the same, such a respectful guy. Most top prospects have a little arrogance, stuff like that, but that’s definitely not Alex.”
And Newhook? It’s clear he thinks fondly of his time playing with Campbell.
“He’s quiet, he sticks his plan. He knows what he has to do, and he works very hard at that,” Newhook said with a smile. “He’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met and I think he has that effect on everyone. Being with each other on the road and playing with each other was pretty cool. He’s a great friend of mine.”
The Grizzlies finished first in the Island Division and scored a league-high 231 goals, but fell in the league semifinal. While scouts were mainly fixated on Newhook in Victoria, the team isn’t short on talent. Hughes, a seventh-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2018 (216th overall), and defenseman Carter Berger, a prime candidate to be drafted as an overager, were also among the team’s premier players. Newhook saw the spotlight as an opportunity for the team’s dark horses to shine in front of an important viewing audience. “I think we had a lot of attention around some prospects this year, which was a lot of fun to be around,” he said.
Even though the pair are set to go their separate ways, they are excited about the potential of getting drafted together this summer.
“It’s always something to think about when you play with a guy for most of the year, the possibility to be on the same team again in the future,” Newhook said. “It’s something that’s pretty cool, but you know, anything can happen.”
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