|Big winger a rare commodity
in the OHL
Gregory Campbell's 33 points in 29 games this season don't rasise too many eye brows around the OHL or even amongst the most astute OHL fans. Yet somehow, Campbell was selected to play in the Hershey Cup All-Star series, a prestige selection to Canada's national junior team and he's good enough to make Rangers GM Peter DeBoer look good after being acquired from Plymouth for Ryan Ramsay, and more, Ramsay has 20-33-55 totals in 30 games. If all of this isn't enough, the Florida Panther prospect has the eyes of many NHL scouts too! What is the hype around the 19 year old from Tillsonburg, where do all of these accolades come from?
Gregory Campbell showed tremendous improvement in his second OHL season in '01-'02, where he scored 17 goals and was taken in the third round by the NHL's Florida Panthers. A far cry from his OHL rookie season where he only managed to score 2 goals. Perhaps Campbell's lack of scoring ability in his rookie season is what has prompted his solid defensive play especially on an OHL championship calibre team while trying to earn ice time (the Whalers were ousted in 6 by the Ottawa 67's in the OHL final that season). In reality too many late blooming kids like Campbell are victims of their own size. Relegated to the wing and told to park themselves infront of the netminder take their lumps from opposing defenders and when convenient stuff a few rebounds into the net. Unfortunately this is a regressive trend, and perhaps an irreversible one. It's similar to the philosophy in hockey's infancy where the teams would put the chubby kid in net, stamina would never be an issue, and as an added bonus the extra size could be used to better cover the net. Goaltending improved as teams found the need to draft and develop agile netminders.
Campbell offers a rare combination of size, skating ability, defensive play and those all-important trusty hands in front of the opposition's net. Any powerplay needs some with great hands in the vicinity of the goal area, even Canada's dream team of junior players. A team such as that simply cannot afford the luxury of a one-trick pony or the liability of a player like a John Osborne who proved to be more than capable of the task last season in Kitchener, but would have circles skated around him by some of the most elite junior players in the world. Gregory Campbell is one of the only top rate forwards who cruise the crease on the powerplay (where Campbell has 10 goals already this season) and then prepares to block incoming point shots on the penalty kill. The penalty kill almost looks more natural for Campbell then does the powerplay. His quick up and down motions to take away shots and passes. Sometimes finding the winning combination is more or less, finding the ingredients and then selecting them. While it is very easy to argue that forwards like Staal and Locke could be more talented, the fact that many OHL critics find the Rangers deal with the Whalers where the Rangers had to trade Ramsay, Klapowski, along with swapping 2nd and 3rd round picks to be beneficial to the Rangers is testiment to where true value lies.
Best of luck from your friends at RangersRush.com
to Kitchener's finest: Derek Roy, Gregory Campbell and Steve Eminger who
will be in Halifax over the holidays representing the Rangers and Canada.
Special Thanks for the photo from: www.whalewatchersfanclub.org/