Mon Sep 26 04:41pm EDT
Here's a 27-year-old defenseman that the Chicago Blackhawks walked away from and who lingered on the free-agent market until the Montreal Canadiens reached out and inked him to a 1-year deal on Monday.
He had other "irons in the fire." He could have looked into opportunities — at a higher pay level, no doubt — in Europe. Instead, he hung in there, gambling that the right opportunity would arrive. As he told the Toronto Star in August:
"I'm preparing and training just as hard as I always do as if I already have a contract," said Campoli, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Isles in 2004.
"The bottom line is you have to be ready to play and be in great shape to play."
Campoli hasn't given any though to playing in Europe because he's certain he'll get an NHL contract. "I have to be patient and keep working hard so wherever I end up I'll make a good first impression," he said. "I'm 27. There is still a lot of time left in me as a player."
The uncertainty about Andrei Markov's(notes) health, the departure of Roman Hamrlik(notes) to the Washington Capitals and what Arpon Basu saw as underwhelming camps for Yannick Weber(notes) and Alexei Yemelin(notes) all contributed to this fit.
Campoli is a 20-minute-per-night defenseman who can contribute on special teams. Even if he slides down the depth chart once Markov is healthy, he's a nice insurance policy to have at $1.75 million.
A price, incidentally, that's higher than the salary Campoli made last season between the Ottawa Senators and Blackhawks. (Forget that $2.5 million the arbitrator gave him; it wasn't likely in a crowded UFA market.)
It's a contract that puts him on what should be a playoff team in 2011-12. In a League full of tryout contracts and steep discounts for players still on the market, that's a win for Campoli and his reps.