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2019 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: David Kampf at No. 14

The center is primed for a shutdown role with Chicago.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Second City Hockey’s 2019-20 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2019. The rankings are determined by a composite score from six SCH writers and more than 70 readers. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. The six SCH writers will make their ballots public after the series is completed.

After executing four trades in June, general manager Stan Bowman stayed active on July 1 in his pursuit to remodel the Blackhawks into a playoff team. He signed Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner, forming a potentially elite goaltending tandem with Corey Crawford, and Golden Knights’ center Ryan Carpenter to reinforce the bottom six and penalty kill units. One additional deal that might have been lost in the shuffle was a two-year, $2-million contract inked with David Kampf.

The undrafted Czech forward signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Blackhawks in May 2017. After 109 NHL games, it’s clear his skillset is most aligned with a role in the bottom six.

Offensively, Kampf’s ceiling is in the 20-30 points per season range. When he does have the puck in the offensive zone, he protects it with confident edge-work and body positioning near the boards. It’s a rare to see Kampf turnover the puck. He only had six giveaways, the lowest on the team for skaters with 30 games or more. He’s also adept at cycling the puck with his linemates and exhausting defenders in hopes of forcing an icing, so one of the top two lines can grab an advantageous offensive-zone start.

He only scored four goals last season, which was to be expected with his skillset and role. Here’s one of those goals, a top shelf snap shot against the Lightning in October:

What impressed me the most in the highlight was Kampf’s movement through the neutral zone during the regroup with Jan Rutta. He swings low into open space with his stick on the ice ready to be an option for Rutta. Kampf then drives toward the middle of the ice with powerful crossovers and gains speed into the offensive zone. He doesn’t turn away from the play and keeps his feet moving towards the slot where he corrals the puck in a prime shooting position after a fortuitous bounce.

Kampf was often noticeable during regroups in the neutral zone, like the one above, and breakouts from the defensive zone. He puts himself in the right position, keeps his stick on the ice and makes himself an option for the puck carrier. In dicey situations in the defensive zone Kampf demonstrated throughout the season that he could be trusted to calm the play down with a chip off the glass, a pass to a winger exiting the zone or by possessing the puck to center ice and dumping it in for a line change - a quality much needed in the bottom six.

Defensively, Kampf was one of the better forwards at reducing scoring chances and high-danger opportunities against (HDCA), which is why he started the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone (63.6 dZS% — trailed only Marcus Kruger, who had a 73.1 dZS%).

Amongst the forwards with a larger sample size of 60 games or more, Kampf ranked second behind Kruger with 2.1 HDCA per game. If the opponent had a scoring chance while Kampf was on the ice, it was usually outside the danger zone and less likely to be a threat. Plus, because of his reliability in the defensive zone, scoring chances were almost even with Kampf on the ice at 291 for and 300 against. That gave him a scoring chances for rate (SCF%*) of 49.2-percent, which led the pack of forwards.

For a team desperate for more defensive stability in 2019-20, Kampf will join Carpenter as players head coach Jeremy Colliton will rely on to make the Blackhawks harder to score against.

What’s next?

Kampf will likely start the season as the fourth line center and take more defensive zone starts. His quality of competition should also increase with more matchups against the second and third lines, especially if Kampf can improve his face-off winning percentage and bump it up closer to 50-percent.

He may not be considered a ‘shutdown center’ yet, but his trajectory points in that direction.


Is David Kampf ranked too low, just right or too high?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    (64 votes)
  • 58%
    Just right
    (150 votes)
  • 16%
    (42 votes)
256 votes total Vote Now

*Advanced stats glossary - All advanced stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey-Reference, Evolving Hockey and Corsica-Hockey

CF% - The percentage of Corsi, which is the number of shots attempts (goals, shots on net, misses or blocks), that are in Chicago’s favor when Player X or Line X is on the ice. Above 50% suggests Player X or Line X spend the majority of their time on the ice possessing the puck and generating shots and scoring chances.

HDCF% - Percentage of total high danger scoring chances, while Player X is on the ice, that are for that player’s team.

SCF%: Scoring chances for rate, which tracks the amount of scoring chances for and against for Team X while Player X is on the ice. Above 50% means that Player X has been on the ice for more scoring chances for him and his linemates than defending scoring chances against.

TOI%_QoC - The weighted average TOI% of opponents that Player X has to defend at even strength. If Player X is frequently defending against the top 6 forward group of the opposing team, their TOI%_QoC is right around or above 29.0-percent. If Player X is consistently defending bottom 6 forwards from the opponent, their TOI%_QoC is closer to 28.0 and below.

dZS% - The frequency of Player X starting their shift in the defensive zone.