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Pickard, Campbell have the goods to be first-rounders

by Mike G. Morreale
TORONTO -- It's possible two goalies will be selected in the first round of the 2010 Entry Draft in Los Angeles on June 25.
Calvin Pickard of the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds and Jack Campbell of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., are just that good and everyone has taken notice.

Despite differing styles, Pickard and Campbell -- rated first and second, respectively, on Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American goaltenders -- have earned their reputation as exceptional netminders.

"They are high-echelon guys who both have the potential to be drafted in the first round," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told "My feeling is they'll probably go in the second half of the first round. Pickard offers more of a calm, relaxed, positional style and is very confident. Campbell is more the athletic, quick, reaction-style goalie who can make that huge, big save that could make a difference."

But does style really matter? Isn't the position all about stopping the puck any way possible?

"True, the bottom line is stopping the puck, but you've got to feel comfortable, too, as a coach and as a team to know who your guy is and where he will be," Jensen said. "They're both great goalies and they'll both have very good pro careers. It's unique because they're totally different but very good."

Pickard was extremely busy for Seattle this season, averaging 32.5 saves per game while finishing 16-34-12 with a 3.09 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

"Pickard did get a lot of shots this year, but he plays so consistent despite getting bombarded," Jensen said. "As a scout I have no control over whether a kid is getting 45 shots or 15 shots. So I watch them practice and in warm-ups. I watch areas of their game that you need to have to get to the NHL level -- how they move and present themselves in the net. How they are with their teammates? Most goalies hate to be scored on, even in practice. As a scout, you can see that. See their technique and ability to move in the net."

Campbell was the gold-medal winning goalie for the U.S. at the 2010 World Juniors. He played in three games, going 2-1 with a 2.54 GAA. After sitting on the bench for most of the medal round, he replaced Michael Lee in the gold-medal game and backstopped Team USA to its second-ever championship at the elite international under-20 tournament.

He entered the game four minutes into the second period of a 3-3 tie and stopped 32 of 34 shots as the U.S. earned a 6-5 overtime victory.

It was the type of effort that could have lasting effects on professional scouts. In 28 appearances with the NTDP this season, Campbell is 16-11-1 with a 2.52 GAA and .904 save percentage -- he averaged 22.8 saves per game.

"I knew the type of goalie he was," Jensen said. "I knew he was a great competitor with athletic ability. To step into that scene (at World Juniors) for as young as he was and perform the way he did is something special. He didn't look out of place and didn't look nervous. He fit right in and that's a rare occurrence for a player his age on that stage."

Pickard is hoping to become the second family member in three years to go in the opening round of the draft. Chet Pickard, formerly of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans, was selected by the Nashville Predators with the 18th pick of the 2008 draft.

"Chet and Calvin are a little different in styles," Jensen said, "but they are both very smart in their net and read the play very well. They're very strong around the crease area, can hold their ground very well and are both confident. The difference between them is Calvin (6-foot, 202 pounds) is a little smaller than Chet (6-3, 214), so his positional play has to be a little better. I think Chet is more athletic, he bounces around a little more than Calvin."

It certainly wouldn't surprise E.J. McGuire, the director of Central Scouting, if both goalies were chosen in the opening round.

"Goaltender is such a specialized position -- it depends on the philosophy of the team," McGuire told "A GM might look at that big wall chart and consider their salary cap and how difficult it might be to re-sign their current goalie, so most are looking 2-3 years down the line. There might be a better chance to add a younger player for insurance. That's when he'll instruct his team that, by the third round, we're going to select a goalie so we better know who the best goalie is."

Despite their natural ability, Jensen said Pickard and Campbell will need some seasoning before jumping to the NHL.

"It's very unlikely that they will step right into the NHL team," he said. "Do they have the ability to get there soon? Sure. But while I don't think they're quite ready for the NHL yet, they both have great potential."

Contact Mike Morreale at
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