Part of the Blackhawks offseason will involve evaluating pending free agents. First up, we will make the case for and against (RFA) Center David Kampf.
David Kampf has been a member of the Blackhawks for the last 4 seasons. He has modest offensive numbers, but his role with the team is really more focused around the defensive end of the ice. 3 out of 4 seasons, he has had a 52% or better faceoff win percentage and has averaged between 13 and 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Kampf has gained the trust of Jeremy Colliton and the coaching staff, not only seeing ice time in critical defensive situations but seems to be given more responsibility by the coaching staff.
Kampf has carried a $1M contract the last 2 seasons and is a fixture in the bottom 6 for the ‘Hawks. Now they are faced with a decision to make regarding his future with the team, as he is a Restricted Free Agent eligible for Arbitration.
What should the ‘Hawks do with Kampf? Re-sign him or Move On?
The Case to Re-sign
Clearly, Kampf is a favorite of Jeremy Colliton and has the full trust of the coaching staff. He is a solid faceoff man, and plays a responsible defensive game. He likely will not be an expensive player to re-sign, as his offensive contributions are limited, and a bottom 6 F is not going to get much when he hasn’t topped the 20 point mark. My guess is he could be had for $1.2M per season, a small raise from his current salary.
So you could get a solid veteran defensive forward for $1.2M, and lock down your 4th line C spot for a year at a time, with minimal risk. That would make Kampf a responsible signing that doesn’t negatively impact your salary cap. From that perspective, it makes sense to keep him.
The Case to Move On
Kampf is likely as good as he is going to get at 26 years old, turning 27 in January. He is never going to be a significant offensive contributor, but that’s not why you have him on the roster. Can you find a similar option in your young players looking for an opportunity on an Entry-Level Contract?
Kampf stands in the path of your developmental prospects. Could Reichel, Kurashev, Entwistle, Barratt, or another young player be slotted into that spot, and provide comparable performance? The ‘Hawks have a logjam of young players that could be given an opportunity to carve out a role in the bottom 6.
Keeping Kampf blocks the way for one of them. When you look at it in terms of the broader organization, it makes sense to move on from him.
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There is comfort in knowing what you have in a player, and know what to expect on a nightly basis. But when the player doesn’t provide at both ends of the ice, and other players might, I think you have to take a chance on the upside, and open the spot up to more competition. I think the ‘Hawks need to move on from Kampf. Somehow I don’t think the coaching staff will agree with me on that one.