ANA | BOS | BUF | CAR | CBJ | CGY | CHI | COL | DAL | DET | EDM | FLA | LAK | MIN | MTL || NHL UFAs | NHL Draft

NJD | NSH | NYI | NYR | OTT | PHI | PHX | PIT | SJS | STL | TBL | TOR | VAN | WSH | WPG || Kelowna Connection | Shea Weber | Leadership

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chris Campoli: today a UFA, tomorrow a Canuck?

Chris Campoli
The Chicago Blackhawks walked away from the $2.5M contract awarded Chris Campoli by the arbitrator. Knowing the award would be higher than to his liking, and that he'd decline the option of accepting, Chicago GM, Stan Bowman signed UFA Sami Lepisto last week to a much smaller contract, more appropriate for a bottom pairing defenseman.

It would be ironic if Campoli is now targeted by Vancouver since it was his give-away in overtime of game 7 that led to Alex Burrows' series clinching goal vs Chicago in the first round. Nevertheless, it would make sense for GM Mike Gillis to bring in Campoli if the price is right. Somewhere around $2M or less would probably make it enticing, considering VAN currently has the perennial playoff scratch, Keith Ballard at $4.2M.

Keith Ballard
Like Ballard, Campoli is a left shooting, offensively oriented, average sized blueliner that can pot 5 to 10 goals and rack up 20 to 30 points a season. At  6' 200 lbs, Campoli isn't going to overwhelm anyone on the d-zone coverage, but his smooth skating, good shot and ability to lead or join the rush would do wonders for the bottom pairing in VAN, if the price is right.

As things stand, almost anything is better than a $4M bottom pairing d-man like Ballard, when precious cap dollars are needed up front to fill out the top six, which leads me to my next recommendation. With Campoli in the fold, Gillis may actually be able kill two birds with one stone, if he is able to convert Ballard into a top six forward by trading with an equally desperate team like the New York Islanders.

Blake Comeau

Blake Comeau & Manny Malhotra
The winger I'm fairly certain would be of interest is the 6'1" 205 lbs, Blake Comeau. He's quietly grown into the role of a top six forward, having surpassed the 20 goal scoring mark this past season. He would be a fine addition to the first or second line -- for instance as Ryan Kesler's right winger.

Comeau himself is an RFA this off-season and is likely looking for a deal in the $2M range. If you add his ~$2M plus Campoli's ~$2M, that equals Ballard's current cap hit.

Now there is little doubt that despite his recent ups and downs, Ballard is a better defenseman than Campoli. He also has a resume with a track record for top four minutes (well over 20 minutes a game before arriving in Vancouver where he averaged just under 16 minutes).  However, considering his cap hit and position on the VAN depth chart:

RW Comeau (~$2M) + LD Campoli (~$2M)   >   LD Ballard  ($4.2M)

July 28/11 Update:
NYI traded winger Trent Hunter for winger Brian Rolston. For NJ it was a cap saving move to the tune of $3M. For NYI, it means another 20 goal winger to the lineup. This could also impact NYI's decision to keep Blake Comeau, who is headed to arbitration if without a deal by Aug 4.

With Rolston in that lineup, one of NYI's current top nine forwards is not going to be with the team. That may simply mean Nino Niederreiter goes back to the WHL for another year. If that's the case though, Garth Snow will be short of the cap floor by ~$1M (using 23 players, projecting Comeau at $2.25M and RFA center Josh Bailey at $1.5M). Now if Bailey goes and Nino stays, the cap floor is reached even if the return in a Bailey trade is only draft picks.

However, the likely one to go is Comeau. He's the one with the leverage to demand more money than Snow wants to pay. Plus, I'd imagine NYI management feels Bailey (3 years younger than Comeau) has another step yet to take in terms of development, considering his pedigree.

NYI Point Blank chief, Chris Botta, is saying that a source has informed him that "another Hockey Move on the way...Rolston trade said to be prelude to a bigger deal...For what it’s worth, we were also told that we’re going to like this one." I would imagine this deal gets done some time before Monday's big referendum by the county on a new arena for NYI.

July 29/11 Update:
@angus_j Jeff Angus Twitter: As per @JawandaPuck, a Ballard/Comeau swap combined with a Chris Campoli signing makes a ton of sense. #Canucks

Jeff Angus, @DobberHockey: An interesting read from a few weeks ago - what if the Canucks traded Ballard for Blake Comeau, and signed Chris Campoli? Ballard never got a fair shake last season, but a fresh start may be in order. Speculation is fun, isn't it?!

Aug 3/11 Update:
With San Jose signing recent UFA defenseman Colin White, the Sharks may be looking at getting in on the Comeau sweepstakes. They can now peddle one of their existing top five defensemen to land the top nine winger from NYI. It's the same scenario I laid out for the Canucks if they sign Campoli and trade Ballard. SJS may be looking to deal blueliner Douglas MurrayMarc-Edourd Vlasic or Jason Demers to NYI. This would fall in line with my previous speculations that the Dangerous Sharks still have More Moves to Make.

Aug 23/11 Update: 
@SunGarrioch Bruce Garrioch TwitterChris Campoli continues to have interest from 5 teams. He will be back at work before camp.

With that short tweet, the veteran Ottawa Sun sports columnist provided more insight on the Chris Campoli situation than all of the quotes the Toronto Star gathered this week from Campoli himself:
“I felt I had a good season (in Chicago). There were a lot of positives to take out of it...I’m a confident guy. I’m confident in my ability as a player and what I’ve accomplished in my career. But being unsigned is part of the business of being a professional hockey player. At the end of the day, as a player, you have to remember that this is a business...All you can do is control how you prepare to be a professional player...Part of being a professional is dealing with the ups and downs. Things make you stronger on and off the ice...You gain certain experiences, good or bad, and you learn from them...I’m pretty fortunate (to be a hockey player)...I’m preparing and training just as hard as I always do as if I already have a contract...The bottom line is you have to be ready to play and be in great shape to play...I have to be patient and keep working hard so wherever I end up I’ll make a good first impression...I’m 27 -- there is still a lot of time left in me as a player...I’ll be ready when the next opportunity knocks for me.”

The delay could be the result of Campoli holding out for the best deal possible, or it could be because the interested GM(s) need more time to work out a win-win deal that would have them send a current defensman to another team in exchange for help at another position, thus allowing Campoli to fill the opening on the blueline.

Shaone Morrisonn & Chris Neil
Teams that could use a blueliner immediately without necessarily having to move a body include Minnesota, and Florida, and ironically, two teams Campoli has already played for, Ottawa and the New York Islanders. However, all of those look to be non-playoff teams this season -- Campoli maybe willing to wait it out until an opening becomes available with a playoff caliber team.

Playoff teams that maybe willing to shift assets in order to sign Campoli include Vancouver and Buffalo. The Sabres would need to first trade Shaone Morrisonn and convert one of Brad Boyes or Joechen Hecht into a more reasonably paid third liner via trade. Morrisonn was a disappointment for them last season, but still has a sizable amount ($2.075M) owed to him on the remaining year of his contract. His spot would be better utilized by Campoli.

The teams that may have interest in Morrisonn could be the same four lottery teams mentioned previously (MIN, FLA, OTT & NYI), especially if they are able to shed a smaller undesirable salary in exchange.

I would still advocate that the Canucks move Keith Ballard to NYI for Blake Comeau and replace the former with the much cheaper Campoli. The exception would be if GM Mike Gillis is planning on using Ballard in a package to lure a bigger fish to Vancouver, such as Comeau's former Kelowna teammate, Shea Weber.

Update 9/23/11:
The Rangers may have been one of those original five teams inquired about Campoli that Garrioch mentioned in Aug, but as the per the agent, Rich Evans, NYR isn't one of the teams to have done so recently:
The Rangers inquired about Chris Campoli within days after the Blackhawks walked away from the 27-year-old defenseman’s $2.5 million salary arbitration award this summer, but the free-agent’s agent, Rich Evans, told The Post that they have not checked in recently on Campoli even with growing doubt regarding Marc Staal’s status and availability for the start of the season. "We had conversations earlier on, so they certainly know he’s out there," Evans said of the Rangers by phone Friday morning. "We’ve had a few teams call recently and we’ve gotten some knocks on the door, but not from the Rangers."

Blake Comeau

Chris Campoli

Previous Post: Rangers Option: Acquiring Another Impact Player
Next Post: Shea Weber Conspiracy Alert: The Kelowna Connection  

1 comment:

  1. Excited for the next week to see how everything pans out. I hope Gillis realizes this oppurtunity and takes advantage of it. Even Josh Bailey wouldnt be a bad option if we dont have to add to just Ballard for him. Get it done MG!