On Thursday, news broke from Northeastern Hockey Blog’s Twitter that the Huskies landed one of the top players in the transfer portal during the 2023 offseason in Alex Campbell, a forward who just finished his junior season at Clarkson University. Campbell is a former third round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Alex Campbell is a 5’11” 175 pound left-shot who can play both wing and center, primarily playing wing for Clarkson last year. The Chateauguay, Quebec native had 26 points (14 goals) in 34 games for the Golden Knights last year, a year after posting 33 points (16 goals) in 37 games in 2021-22. He was third on Clarkson in scoring this year, tied for their best goal scorer, and led the team in scoring and goals last season. Other notable stats from his college career are that he had 84 shots on goal last year, 94 the year prior, had 12 powerplay goals between the two years, and only took five minor penalties across the two seasons, displaying discipline and scoring ability both at even strength and on the man-advantage. He played his junior hockey in Omaha of the USHL where he was an assistant captain, posting 57 points (18 goals) in 46 games, as well as in Victoria of the BCHL on the same team as former Huskies Riley Hughes and Jeremie Bucheler. He’s represented Canada at the World Junior A Championship, he was the BCHL Rookie of the Year in 2018-19 with his 67 points, was a USHL First Team All Star in 2019-20, and was an ECAC First Team All Star in 2021-22.
In researching about Campbell’s qualities as a player, there are many that come up as having been present since he was drafted back in 2019. Scouts and evaluators repeatedly talk about his hockey sense and his compete level, knowing where to be on the ice as well as how to involve his teammates. One evaluator even said he “plays without fear, which is huge for a guy who doesn’t have a power element to his game.” Another aspect of his game that works for someone of slighter frame is his edge work and body positioning helps avoid getting hit or pinned while carrying the puck. Scouts and evaluators talk repeatedly bring up his skating, which is considered one of his best attributes. He has “high-end speed” which can help drive play, and he combines that with good, quick hands, high skill, and a quick wrist shot.
As he’s gotten older and more mature as a player, one aspect of his game that has continued to improve is his ability to compete physically for pucks and space on the ice, engaging in the offense in more ways with the puck on and off his stick. Elite Prospects described this earlier in the month when classifying him as a “Stock Up” NHL Prospect, saying “Where Campbell used to operate exclusively as an off-puck finishing threat, his new posture has him extending possessions rather than sneaking away from the play in an attempt to finish them. His involvement rate is substantially higher, and his team generates substantially more offensive zone time because of it.” Similarly, one ECAC observer described him as “constantly in the play,” even if he himself is not the highlight or focal point. It’s this type of driven, unselfish play that Northeastern coaches have been preaching since Jerry Keefe took over two years ago, and a level of compete that is critical to win games in both flashy and ugly ways.
If you want more reading material regarding the kind of person, player, and teammate Alex Campbell is, I recommend reading this excellent piece from the Predators’ SB Nation blog, On The Forecheck, which goes into the relationship Campbell and his former teammate Ethan Haider had while at Clarkson, pushing each other to improve daily on their growth through college hockey at Clarkson. My personal favorite line was when discussing practice, how these long-time friends and teammates kept trying to raise the bar and one-up each other: ““In practice, we create a little competition and kinda get each other going,” said Campbell. “Whether I score or he makes a big save on me, we just give it to each other and it’s super super fun.”
A proven scorer at the NCAA leader, the ability to play a speed and skill or a grind and crash type game, a leader on and off the ice, and the positional flexibility to play center or wing- Alex Campbell is the perfect addition to a Northeastern program that will be looking to re-tool as it loses significant scoring and leadership this offseason. I expect Campbell to be locked into the Huskies’ top six and first unit powerplay from the first practice, however line combinations are far, far off from being known, so it’s unclear at this time if he’ll slot in on a top six wing or as the second center behind captain Justin Hryckowian. Wherever he plays, expect him to be a significant difference maker for the Huskies in the 2023-24 season.
As always, go Huskies!