Steven Kampfer’s time in the Rangers’ organization has been interesting, particularly for a player most would call a fringe NHLer. He initially joined the Rangers on the opening day of free agency in 2014. After losing a training camp battle for the team’s 7th defenseman spot to noted NHL fixtures Matt Hunwick and Mike Kostka, the Blueshirts’ shipped him to the Florida Panthers in a 2-for-1 swap of minor league players to make room for Anthony Duclair.
After skating in 73 NHL games over his first two seasons plus the first month of 16-17 in Sunrise, the Panthers shipped him back to Broadway in exchange for Dylan McIlrath (the ultimate ????? move of Jeff Gorton’s tenure) in November of 2017. Kampfer skated in ten games for New York last season before signing a two year extension with the team last April (OK I lied, this is the ultimate ????? move of Gorton‘s tenure). Kampfer ended up spending the entire 2017-18 season on the Rangers’ NHL roster, so the extension makes sense in a cosmic sort of way.
Boxcar Stats: 22 GP (+11), 0 G (-1), 1 A (-1), 20 PIM (+14), 31 SOG (+21) 17:15 TOI/GP (+4:21) -1 Penalty Differential (-2)
“Analytical” Metrics: 0.18 P/60 (-0.67), -4.31 Relative CF% (-7.35), -16.90 Relative GF% (-13.57), +1.82 Relative xGF% (+12.16) 97.39 On-Ice PDO (-5.24), -0.18 Goals Above Replacement (no data from 2016-17)
Evaluating a player like Kampfer year-to year is a bit difficult. He skated in eleven NHL contests in 2016-17, and 22 this season, neither of which is enough games to make any worthwhile conclusions on, so grading him based on being better or worse than his previous season is pointless. His last game was February 11th before fracturing his hand, prior to New York’s trade deadline fire sale, so he wasn’t a part of the dumpster fire that the Rangers became in the final five weeks. When he did play, he was in the lineup pretty much because the Rangers needed a body to skate on the blue line and he happened to be on the roster. He skated over 18 minutes only eight times, all of which were in his final eight games of the season. He was just......there. In a word, Kampfer’s 17-18 season was a struggle.
Final Grade: D
There’s a million players like Steven Kampfer throughout professional hockey. Not every pro hockey player can hack it in the NHL, and that’s OK. There is reams upon reams of data that support that notion that Kampfer is one of those players, and that’s OK too. It’s not Kampfer’s fault Jeff Gorton signed him to a contract extension hours before his team skated in Game 1 of the 2017 playoffs, and it’s not his fault Gorton kept him on the roster throughout the 17-18 season. The organization wanted the likes of Tony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk, etc, to skate top minutes in Hartford rather than watch games from New York’s press box. Short of going out and acquiring a player that was up to the task of skating against NHL-caliber players, keeping Kampfer as the regular 7th defenseman was a move of minor consequence.
How could he have been better?: As I said previously, we have access to mountains of data from years past that suggest Kampfer isn’t a particularly good NHL player. He’ll turn 30 in the upcoming training camp, has only played 166 NHL games at this point, and has been mediocre at best in those games. This season wasn’t much different from his previous five partial NHL seasons so there really isn’t much Kampfer can be expected to improve upon heading into next season. Given the glut of bottom pairing defenseman that are set to compete for roster spots next fall, it appears that Kampfer has played his final NHL game in the Rangers’ organization.
What did he do right?: Again, there’s not much to say here. Kampfer scored a single point in his 22 games. The highlight of his season was getting into two fights in the same game against the Tampa Bay Lightning back on November 2nd. Maybe one day he’ll make the header image as an obscure former Ranger for Bantering Points, but that’s pretty much it.
*Data via Corsica and Fox Sports
2018 Report Cards: Marc Staal / Mats Zuccarello / Ryan Spooner / Rob O’Gara / Jimmy Vesey / Brendan Smith / Vladislav Namestnikov / Brady Skjei
How would you grade Steven Kampfer’s season?
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