Obviously, last year's Chicago Blackhawks team had a lot of ups-and-downs. More downs than ups, which provided a lot of opportunities for younger players to get into the lineup and show management what they were capable at the NHL level.
David Kampf was the beneficiary of this, and due to the lack of centre depth within the organization had a rather unexpected 46-game stint with the big club.
Kampf was signed out of the Czech league with Pirati Chomutov where he started his pro career, playing from 2015-2017. This is where he and Jan Rutta were teammates.
He was also a strong ambassador for the Czech hockey program playing in some international tournaments for his country, most notably at the 2014 and 2015 WJHC.
His numbers earlier in his career indicate he's always had an offensive skill set and after watching him in the AHL and NHL last year, you can tell he's been very well coached.
While on the ice, Kampf doesn't appear to be very big in size (he checks in at 6'2 / 195 lbs), he plays an aggressive, gritty type game. Not in the sense that he will rock a guy with an open-ice hit but he's great on the forecheck and strong along the boards.
Side note: if you want to see how strong he really is, go check out his Instagram feed.
Dude is into CrossFit and looks more like a bodybuilder than a hockey player.
It's this "relentless" forecheck and strong hockey IQ that reminds me a little of Marcus Kruger in his prime. The Hawks have Marcus Kruger back and "in his prime" is probably not the state that his game is in right now, so it may be nice to have a Kruger-lite in Kampf waiting in the wings.
Kampf must have been doing all the right things in Coach Q's eyes because he anchored the 4C role for a good part of the 2nd half of the year.
He put up a respectable 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in 46 points in limited minutes – good for a 20-point pace in a full NHL season.
Jeremey Colliton also really relied on the 23-year old Czech, as he was in a top-6 role and was an every-situation type player for him. Kampf put up 18 points (7 G, 11 A) in 33 games in the regular season. And although he only had 1-point in Rockford's 13-game playoff run, Colliton spoke very highly about him and his overall game during this time.
So, the question of the day… will David Kampf make the Chicago Blackhawks this year and have an impact?
As it stands today, my answer would be yes.
The Hawks centre depth didn't get much better in the offseason and appears they are going into the year with:
I believe Quenneville will lean on Kruger like he has in the past to be the 1st skater over the boards on the PK and to take key defensive zone draws to alleviate some pressure from Toews.
Kruger, although playing through an injury, was relegated to the AHL last year. Post-surgery to repair a sports hernia, which Kruger will the Hawks be getting?
Time will tell; however, David Kampf serves as a nice backup option.
If Kruger struggles at the dot, Kampf was 53% at the dot, which was good enough for 2nd on the team behind the Captain.
He also had a 51.6% CF and started 54% of his zone starts in the defensive end.
I envision a line of Kunitz-Kruger-Kampf (K3 line) being a menace on the forecheck, as well as being an option for Q's "shutdown" line.
I would suspect a duo of Kruger/Kampf would be a nice PK1 option for Coach Q as well.
What do you think?
My next blog will have "the rest" of the bubble players and an analysis on whether they make the team or not.
I will also have upcoming Rookie Tournament coverage and an "interesting" line combination" series to finish off and set us up nicely for training camp in a couple weeks.
See ya out there!