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Stars select American goaltender Jack Campbell with first round selection

by John Tranchina / Dallas Stars

Los Angeles - While much of the pre-draft buzz had the Dallas Stars choosing a defenseman, the Stars went in a different direction with their first-round selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft Friday night, but they feel they’ve snagged themselves a franchise goaltender.

With the number 11 overall selection, Dallas chose goaltender Jack Campbell of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Campbell Gallery
Draft History

Campbell was the first goalie taken in the draft and was also the first American player chosen. A native of Port Huron, MI, Campbell brings a reputation for big-game performances with him, as he helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships last January.  

Stars management had him rated third, just behind the first two selections, Taylor Hall, who went first overall to Edmonton and Tyler Seguin, who was chosen second by Boston. 

“I have to say, right from the get-go, our guys felt most strongly about this kid,” Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk said.  “After Hall and Seguin, the next guy on the list that had a chance to be a franchise impact player was Jack Campbell. He was the number one guy right from the start and when he was there at 11, we took him.”

At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, the 18-year-old Campbell has impressive size, but it’s his intense competitiveness that kept coming up as his most impressive attributes. 

“There are some special qualities about this kid,” said Tim Bernhardt, the Stars’ Director of Amateur Scouting. “Obviously he’s a winner, he wants it as bad as any kid I’ve ever seen and usually those high achievers achieve what they want.”

“I’d say I’m technically sound with a good level of athleticism,” Campbell said. “I try to balance the two. And I love the pressure moments, and I love when the game’s on the line, I want the puck. I love to win.”

He’s done a lot of that recently. This past season, he posted a 6-3-1 record this season with the U.S. NTDP team in the USHL, recording a 2.21 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. 

But it was his impressive work at the World Juniors, under pressure, that really showed what he was made of. Campbell actually began the gold medal game on the bench, as five-time defending champion Canada, playing on home ice in Saskatoon, ran up a 3-0 first period lead. Campbell came on in relief and helped spark the Americans to a comeback, stopping 32 of 34 shots the rest of the way as the U.S. won 6-5 in overtime. 

He also helped lead the U.S. to back-to-back gold medals at the 2009 and 2010 Under-18 World Championships, earning Top Goaltender honors at the 2010 tournament with a stunning 0.83 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.

Next season, Campbell is heading to Windsor of the OHL, the team that’s won the past two Memorial Cup tournaments as the top team in Canadian junior hockey. 

“Our guys say technically, he’s sound, he handles the puck well, he’s won at every level,” Nieuwendyk said. “He won the World Juniors, he’s going to Windsor and joining a great program there where he’ll be successful. If you talk to the kid, he’s very mature, a real good solid kid, driven, and that’s what you want in your players. You can sense the confidence in him.”

Campbell wasn’t surprised to be selected by the Stars and even listed longtime Dallas netminder Marty Turco, a former University of Michigan Wolverine, as his all-time favorite goalie.

“It’s one of the teams that I talked to a little bit more,” Campbell said of the Stars. “It’s a team that I really wanted to go to. Marty Turco has been my idol my whole life. I’ve been working with the Dallas Stars goalie coach (Mike Valley) a little bit. You know, to be drafted by Dallas, it’s such a first-class organization, it really is a dream come true.”

Campbell was thrilled to be the first goalie selected, especially since the time he spent waiting in the Staples Center stands was full of butterflies.

“I was getting pretty nervous - not worried, but I was just trying to enjoy the process and then when I heard my name get called 11th overall, it really was a dream come true,” said Campbell.

Campbell, as the top-ranked goaltender on most draft lists, also comes very highly regarded by scouts and other hockey insiders.

“He’s got good size, doesn’t beat himself and his positioning is very good,” said former NHL goaltender Al Jensen, a scout for NHL’s Central Scouting. “He has good quickness in recovery, but he’s not all over the place. He’ll make the saves.”

“Campbell is, by all accounts, an incredible teammate with character and leadership and game-stealing capabilities, the traits scouts look for in a franchise-type netminder,” added highly-respected commentator Bob McKenzie of TSN. “It’s said he’s off-the-scale confident but not cocky and he works as hard in practice to shut out teammates as he does in a game and that he’s a goal-oriented individual who will settle for nothing less than being a dominant goalie at the NHL level.”

Leading up to the Stars’ selection, there was some intrigue as two very highly-rated defenseman, Cam Fowler of OHL Windsor and Brandon Gormley of QMJHL Moncton. Fowler was a consensus top-five pick and Gormley was in the top seven or eight on most lists, so to see them fall out of the top nine was surprising. 

The New York Rangers then stepped in at number 10 and picked bruising defender Dylan McIlrath, leaving both of those top blueliners on the board for Dallas, but in the end, the Stars opted for Campbell because they had him rated higher. 

“If you have the guy that you want to take and he’s available, you take him,” Nieuwendyk said. “That was clearly the case with us this year. There was no grey area.”

Fowler went on the next selection to Anaheim and Gormley ended up with Phoenix at number 13. 
“He’s one of my buddies and I thought he was going to be long gone by 12,” Campbell said of Fowler, his teammate on Team USA’s World Junior squad. “Anaheim got a franchise defenseman tonight. They’ve got to be pretty happy.”

Fowler himself didn’t blame the Stars for overlooking him in order to select his buddy. 

“They’ve got a franchise goalie, that’s for sure,” Fowler said of Dallas. “He’s going to work his butt off. Never seen a kid with so much desire and so humble at the same time. A great friend of mine, and I’m truly happy for him.”

It’s likely that Campbell will need at least a couple of years before he’s ready for the rigors of the NHL, but he plans to be ready whenever he’s called upon.

“Right now it’s up to Dallas,” Campbell said regarding his future. “I’m going to be working as hard as I possibly can on a day-to-day basis. I’m going to be doing everything I can to be ready.  When they call me and want me in there, I’ll be ready.”

“Yesterday was the first time I had a chance to sit down and talk and I was really impressed,” Nieuwendyk said. “Just a quality kid, a family  kid and driven. You talk to him and you get the sense he wants to get in that Dallas net tomorrow. For us, it’s a big step, to have a good stable of goaltenders now.”

“We just feel now that this gives an opportunity to be set at that position for a long time,” Bernhardt added.


- Former Dallas Stars defenseman Mark Tinordi watched his son Jarred, a teammate of Campbell’s on the U.S. NTDP team, get selected 22nd overall in the first round by Montreal. Tinordi was the first captain in Dallas history before he was traded to Washington in Jan. 1995.

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