by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Monday, November 19, 2007
When the Islanders drafted Chris Campoli in the seventh round of the 2004 draft, they envisioned that one day the 20-year old would be able to quarterback the powerplay and play important minutes on both ends of the ice. After 14 games of his third season with the Isles, Campoli is finally starting to show that he can be a complete NHL defenseman.
Scoring 11 points while establishing himself as a physical presence, Campoli has successfully rebounded after an injury-plagued 2007 that limited him to only 51 games and 14 points.
"My role has changed this year," said Campoli. "I'm playing more and with more confidence. “All that matters is that we keep winning and I do what I can to contribute."
Scoring 34 points in an impressive rookie season, Campoli came into training camp last season assured of a spot on the Islanders blue line. New Islanders head coach Ted Nolan however, thought that the youngster could use more seasoning in the AHL with the team’s affiliate in Bridgeport. Despite the view of his coach however, Campoli looked as if he was going to make the team out of camp as the seventh defenseman. However, after a groin injury a week before opening night, Campoli was forced to rehab and earn his stripes again.
Finally getting back in the lineup before the All-Star break, it took Campoli nearly 50 games to look like a steady NHL defenseman again. Scoring four points and playing excellent defense in the playoff series with the Buffalo Sabres, Campoli earned himself a three-year, $1.9 million dollar contract and hasn’t looked back since.
However, despite his reinvigorated play, the 23-year-old doesn’t see anything different with his game.
"It's just me playing my game and recognizing the opportunities to jump into the play,” said Campoli. “I don't think I'm jumping into the play anymore often than I did last year or the year before. When opportunities come I just want to take advantage of them."
With more playing time, Campoli has become an influential part of the Islanders defense. Additionally, with injuries to Bryan Berard and the streaky play of Marc-Andre Bergeron, the young defenseman’s role may get even bigger before the season is through. Regardless of that though, Campoli is just happy to be on a winning team and is focused on getting the team past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
“All that matters is that we keep winning and I do what I can to contribute.”