Ever since the Hawks pipeline started churning out actual players regularly a decade ago, call-ups have followed a pretty familiar pattern. Unless they were really touted prospects with pedigree (Saad, Teuvo, DeBrincat), for the most part they would come up, get a fair amount of games, and a lot of them would merit more affection that they should simply because we were all kinds of bored of all the guys who had been here for years. Some were actually useful like Andrew Shaw or…well, Andrew Shaw. Most fade into the background. David Kampf is one of the weird ones who kind of fits in the middle. He didn’t gain huge fanfare, and it feels like he’s in the background, but he might actually be useful.
46 games, 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points, 12 PIM, -9
51.9 CF%, -0.09 CF% rel, 47.5 xGF%, -1.83 xGF% rel
There’s not too much point in getting too attached to fourth line centers. There’s only one Marcus Kruger in the world, and we saw how even that went last year. They’re middle relievers, or fourth wide receivers. If you don’t think you have one you can probably find one somewhere pretty easily.
That doesn’t mean Kampf was completely disposable. Defensively, he was actually pretty good when on the ice. He had the second-lowest corsi-against per 60 on the team among forwards (trailing only DeBrincat WHY THE FUCK WAS HE ON THE THIRD LINE MOST OF THE YE….sorry, sorry, tiger got out of the cage there). His xGA/60 only trailed Vinnie Smalls and Jurco among the forwards. And when talking about a fourth line player, the first thing you ask is that they keep it out of your net. Considering the goaltending the Hawks were getting, there wasn’t much Kampf could do about that but he did what he could.
The problem for Kampf might lie on the penalty kill. He was only one of six forwards to be used for more than 50 minutes while shorthanded, but he had the worst metrics of those in terms of attempts and chances against. We’ve never subscribed to the theory that penalty killing should only be done by third and fourth liners, but if you have ones that can’t they tend to be shuffled out for those who can. After all, you can probably find a tomato can who can give you 12 minutes at evens per night and nothing else anywhere. If Kampf is going to stick, that’s going to have to get better.
Outlook: When you look at him, you can’t help but think, “He’s fine, and if he’s the fourth line center at the start of the season I won’t die, but it’s also a spot you can probably improve upon.” If the Hawks are actually a real-ass team next year, Kampf feels like the type who would be doing the Rockford shuffle all year, getting you out of a stretch when injuries and fatigue pile up and providing a spark. It would help if he was lighting it up with the Hogs in their playoff run right now, but he doesn’t have a point in seven games. He’s young, he’s cheap, he’s fast, and those are all things not to be discounted. If Anisimov is traded he probably gets a center spot by default.
But you can’t help but think this is something the Hawks can probably do better in when the time comes. If that “better” is a step forward from Kampf himself, then that’s fine. But for an idea what good teams have at center on their bottom unit, the Jets have Lowry, the Preds have Jarnkrok (when their coach isn’t turning into Dr. Weird), at the moment even the Wild have Jordan Greenway. Do you think Kampf is in that class?