by PuckStopsHere on 12/23/11 at 03:47 PM ET
One of the top scoring defencemen in the league this season is Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers. He has 27 points in 35 games, which puts him third among defencemen so far this season. 27 points was his total last season in 65 games. He has already equalled his offensive totals from last season with more than half of the year left to play. Campbell was once a higher scoring defenceman. In 2007/08, he split the year between Buffalo and San Jose and scored 62 points. His offensive totals declined during his time in Chicago.
The decline is largely due to the defensive depth the Blackhawks had. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook appeared above Campbell on the depth charts. This limited the quality and quantity of Campbell’s ice time. Most significantly he was on the second unit of the power play.
Last season Campbell only scored six of his 27 points on the power play. This season he has scored the majority of his points on the power play. He has scored 16 of his 27 points there. Campbell has roughly the same per game scoring rate at even strength last season as he has this season. His offensive resurgence comes from increased power play chances.
Campbell was largely an extra top defenceman in Chicago. While he was a good player, there was a better player available in the roles he was best suited. Campbell had an over $7 million salary cap hit and this was problematic to the Hawks. It led them to dump his salary to Florida, who was in desperate need of expensive cap hits so they could make the salary floor, for Rostislav Olesz. Olesz was overpaid with an over $3 million salary cap hit, which is awfully high for a player who only scored 17 points. Chicago has sent Olesz to the minors. Effectively they sent Campbell’s salary cap hit to Florida and were unconcerned with getting anything in return.
In Florida, Campbell has been able to play a starring role since the Panthers do not have the same defensive depth the Blackhawks have. Campbell’s offence has picked up in Florida, but the increase is due to an increase in the quantity and quality of his power play time. Other than the chance in his usage patterns, Campbell in Chicago and Campbell in Florida is roughly the same player.
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