WINDSOR, Ont. – Goaltender Jack Campbell has shown he can handle pressure and he’s fast on his feet. But he admits one question stumped him ahead of the NHL draft.
“The New York Islanders asked me what were the last five songs that I’ve downloaded to my iPod and I couldn’t answer that right away,”said Campbell, who interviewed with 21 of the NHL’s 30 teams.
“I thought I was doing well with all the hockey questions, but that one stumped me a bit.”
Playlist aside, the 18-year-old native of Port Huron, Mich., is expected to be one of the first–if not the first–netminders to be selected in the NHL entry draft in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday.
The six-foot-two 185-pounder has spent the last two seasons with the USA Hockey’s national team development program based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
He is ranked as the No. 1 North American goalie prospect by International Scouting Services and No. 2 by NHL Central Scouting.
Campbell, who lists Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller as his favourite goaltenders, raised his own profile the last two seasons by winning three world junior titles: the 2009 and 2010 world under-18 tournaments, and the 2010 world junior hockey championship.
In the junior final in Saskatoon against Canada, won by the Americans in overtime, Campbell replaced starting netminder Mike Lee.
“I thought I played OK in that game,” Campbell said modestly. “There was a lot of pressure, but I like playing under pressure.”
Regardless of which NHL team that drafts him this weekend, Campbell will be joining another winning organization when he suits up for the two-time defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.
In fact, Campbell left a scholarship from the University of Michigan last November to agree to join the Spitfires this fall.
“The U.S. development program really accelerated my development, and I will always be thankful for that,” he said. “My goal is to play in the NHL as soon as possible and for me the best route to achieve that is the Canadian Hockey League.”
The Spitfires, according to Campbell, are simply too good an organization to pass by.
“Windsor is a tremendous hockey city and the coaches and management are first-rate,” he said. “I love the rink too—I was there when the team won the OHL championship against Barrie and the atmosphere was just incredible.”
Windsor GM Warren Rychel drafted Campbell in the sixth round, 108th overall, from the Detroit Honeybaked midgets in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection.
“Jack Campbell is the best goaltender in the world not currently playing in the NHL,” said Rychel.
“Jack is very athletic in net, has outstanding puckhandling ability and is a big game player,” he added. “He has real quick reflexes and his concentration level is extremely high.”
Windsor head coach Bob Boughner is equally pumped over Campbell’s impending arrival
“Jack is just glowing with character and leadership qualities,” Boughner said. “I think he has a very good chance at coming in here and being the Canadian Hockey League goalie of the year as a rookie.”