There were 12 games played on Thursday and 14 contests are set to be held on Saturday, but there weren’t any games Friday night. Consequently, there wasn’t much in the way of news on Friday for us to digest.
That being said, there is a lot that’s happened thus far that’s kind of been lost in the shuffle. Particularly on my end as I’ve been focused on the Toronto Maple Leafs recently. One example of that is Jack Campbell, who has posted a 1.35 GAA and .966 save percentage in three starts with the Los Angeles Kings. He’s had to step up because Jonathan Quick is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
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There was a time when Campbell was regarded as the Dallas Stars’ goaltender of the future, but he never managed to get anywhere in the Stars’ organization. By the end of his tenure with them, Campbell was even struggling to stick with AHL Texas, instead frequently finding himself with ECHL Idaho. The Kings picked him up from Dallas in June 2016 in exchange for Nick Ebert, who spent one season with AHL Texas and now plays in Sweden, and Campbell has managed to rehabilitate his career with Los Angeles. It wasn’t an overnight process and even now, he still only has 10 career NHL games on his resume, but at the age of 26, Campbell still has the potential to make a career for himself at the top level.
We also recently saw the return of Ryan Kesler, who missed the start of the season due to a hip injury after being limited to 44 games in 2017-18 due to the same issue. Unfortunately, this might be an issue that won’t go away entirely. While Kesler is playing now, he might need to occasionally take games off to rest his arthritic hip. As for how often he’ll take games off, that remains to be seen. Ducks GM Bob Murray made it sound like they will be monitoring how Kesler feels and adjust their plans as needed.
Still, Kesler did score a goal in his season debut on Oct. 10, which is encouraging. On top of that, the Ducks are off to a 2-1-1 start despite dealing with some serious injuries. They have Kesler back, but are still missing two of their top forwards in Ryan Getzlaf (groin) and Corey Perry (knee). Perry will be out for most of the season, but the good news is that Getzlaf is just day-to-day.
Another team that’s gotten off to a really strong start is the Carolina Hurricanes, which are 3-0-1. You always want to take preseason success with a grain of salt, but the Hurricanes were also 5-0-1 in their exhibition games. Carolina’s initial success is largely thanks to scoring 17 goals in four games, but unlike Toronto, the Hurricanes haven’t been led by a few red hot stars. Instead, they have nine different players who have already scored a goal and 11 players with at least two points. Having said that, it’s worth highlighting rookies Andrei Svechnikov and Warren Foegele, who each have four points in four games.
They’re tied for fourth place in the rookie scoring race. The leader by far thus far is Elias Pettersson, who has four goals and seven points in four games. It’s not shocking to see Pettersson leading the charge as he was regarded as an early favorite for the Calder Trophy before the season began, but even in that context, his start has been surprising. He’s opened with a four-game point streak and has found the back of the net in three of his first four games. Vancouver might not end up being a particularly good team in spite of him – they are 2-2-0 thus far – but you combine Pettersson with sophomore Brock Boeser and the rest of Vancouver’s emerging young core and the Canucks certainly look like they have the pieces to be a contender in the not too distant future.