Jack Campbell first arrived in Toronto in February 2020 as part of a package deal to help bolster the goaltending depth and give Frederik Andersen a chance to lighten the workload. Little did we realize that the Leafs on that fateful day would acquire their future starting goalie who would go on to re-write the record books.
Last season saw Campbell win his first 11 starts which set an NHL record and went on to snatch the starting role from Andersen on route to getting all of the starts in their 2021 playoff matchup against the Canadiens. While the team in front of him fell short yet again, his strong play signified that he was the least of the team’s concerns and that they wouldn’t have gotten to that point if it weren’t for his valiant efforts.
Fast forward to the start of the 2021-22 campaign and he has picked up right where he left off, going 8-3-1 in his first 12 starts, along with a 1.82 GAA and a .939 SV% (!!!). Considering that the new acquisition (Petr Mrazek) hasn’t been able to stay healthy and the remaining options are question marks at best, it’s safe to say that the starting net safely belongs to Campbell. He has rightfully earned it because of his strong play and the beaming personality that has made him become a near-instant fan favourite. And all of this while on the last year of a contract where he is most certainly going to get a pay raise, regardless if that is in Toronto or somewhere else.
What does the future hold for Campbell and will he be the goalie that brings glory back to Hogtown? That’s what I wanted to discover with Franchise Hockey Manager 8, the latest game in Out of the Park Developments successful series of GM simulation games. Seeing as how much everyone enjoyed the previous two simulations using the older game, I thought it would be fun to try it again with the newest installment, and what better player to focus it on than the Soupman himself.
If this is your first time reading an article like this, it’s now my ninth simulation of seeing how a player’s career will turn out using a video game. Check out the previous entries below if you want to catch up. Take all the time you need and come back when you’re fully caught up!
Welcome back! Here are the rules that I will be following throughout this sim:
- I’m not allowed to control the Leafs at all during the sim, so I randomly selected a team prior to starting
- Auto-Sign is on so I don’t affect Free-Agency
- Injuries are left on
- Once Campbell retires, the sim ends
- Every five years, I’ll post his stats along with any awards he might have won
- I’ll update you guys on anything noteworthy regarding the Leafs and who won the Stanley Cup
So here’s what the lineup looks like to begin the season:
Note: Auston Matthews had an injury in the season opener.
Here are Campbell’s stats at the start:
And with all of that out of the way, let’s begin the simulation!
Year 1 (2021-22)
It was an average season for the Leafs that saw them finish third in their division and only sat three points clear of the Panthers for the first Wild Card spot. In fact, five teams in the Atlantic Division made the playoffs this year which goes to show how competitive the other teams the Leafs face the most have been. Campbell was reduced to backup duties and only appeared in 32 games, which resulted in him posting a disappointing stat line. He had a 14-17-1 record, a .900 SV%, and a 3.33 GAA.
The Leafs squared off against the Lightning in the playoffs and, you guessed it, were eliminated out of the first round in seven games. Campbell was in the net for the entire series and saw some slight improvements with his numbers, posting a .903 SV% and a 2.88 GAA. Toronto ended up being the ultimate playoff loser as they lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to the team that won the Stanley Cup. In this case, the Blues were the ones who stop back on top of the hockey world with their second championship in four years.
Midway through the season, Campbell agreed to a two-year extension and saw his salary increase to $2.5 million AAV. For the time being, he will remain in the Leafs’ organization for the foreseeable future. (Sidenote: the Leafs do give Morgan Rielly a contract extension in this simulation, but it was a three-year contract instead of an eight-year one).
Year 2 (2022-23)
It was the end of an era as Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds retired at year’s end, both going off into the sunset without ever coming close to the Stanley Cup. The only major move the Leafs made in the offseason was trading Esa Lindell to the Lightning for Taylor Raddysh and what remains of Brent Seabrook. They also gave up a second-round pick to bring in Sam Lafferty as depth (LMAO).
Toronto had a solid regular season and cruised to their first proper division title since 2000, on the backs of a solid showing from Campbell. He played 37 games this time and saw his numbers improve to a .920 SV% and a 2.48 GAA. At the trade deadline, the Leafs finally acquired Nick Jensen, only to have spent the rest of the year with the Marlies.
The Leafs finally made it past the first round of the playoffs but were swept out of the second round by the Bruins (because of course, they did). Campbell did much better than the previous postseason as he finished with a .913 SV% and a 2.84 GAA, but it clearly wasn’t enough to end the drought. Boston would go on to the finals but bow out in five games to Nazem Kadri and the Avalanche.
Year 3 (2023-24)
A few members of the Leafs’ blueline made their exodus as Travis Dermott went to the Bruins (gross) and Justin Holl signed with the Hurricanes. They also packaged off Jake Muzzin to the Kraken in exchange for Ryan Donato in an effort to shed some salary and change the makeup of the team.
Despite coming off a solid season the year before, Campbell was inexplicably sent down to the Marlies to begin the year with Joseph Woll stealing his spot. Even more egregiously is that the Leafs decided to trade him to the Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick. Talk about a fall from grace. He split the season between the Toronto Marlies and the Providence Bruins, where he went a combined 11-14-3, a .908 SV%, and a 3.13 GAA in 29 games played.
The Bruins went on a deep run in the AHL playoffs, making it up to the third round before falling in five games to the Cleveland Monsters. Campbell stepped up his game and saw his numbers improve all across the board, once again proving that he has been the least of his team’s problems when it comes to the playoffs. He was rewarded for his efforts with an additional two-year extension to remain with the Bruins so hopefully, he’ll be back in the NHL soon. The Regin would go on to win the Calder Cup while the Predators took home the Stanley Cup.
Year 4 (2024-25)
The Bruins made little moves of note, apart from bringing in an ageing Jared Spurgeon for two prospects. Thankfully, Campbell made his triumphant return to the NHL after being stuck in the AHL for a season for reasons that I will fail to understand.
Boston saw the wheels come off and they slid down the standings to the tune of a seventh-place finish in the Atlantic Division. Campbell did alright in his first season donning the Black and Gold, all things considered, posting a 19-19-1 record, a .912 SV% and a 3.01 GAA on a losing team. Considering the precarious state his career was in the year prior, it was a solid turnaround for him and surely a confidence booster heading into the new year.
As the Bruins squared off on the golf course, the Golden Knights became one of the quickest expansion teams to win the Cup as they steamrolled the Flyers in five games.
Year 5 (2025-26)
The Bruins had a fairly uneventful offseason, with the only moves of note being trading away Dermott to the Blue Jackets for Yegor Chinakhov and then sending Alexander Volkov to the Blues for Jake Neighbours (awesome last name might I add).
But the biggest shock of the season was Campbell not just being demoted back to the AHL, but sent to the depths of hockey hell known as the ECHL. For whatever reason, the game did not track the regular season totals and playoff results for the season so I was left in the dark on how the season played out. What I do know is that Campbell played well, posting a 26-14-4 record, a .910 SV%, and a 2.74 GAA in 44 games played. Based on his and Zachary Bouthillier’s stats, the Maine Mariners had a strong enough season to qualify for the playoffs but I have no clue as to how far they went and if they won it all. The one thing I do know is the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, so there’s that.
There was another surprise in store heading into the offseason. Campbell was likely fed up with being given the shaft of being bounced around so he decided to call it a day on his career and retired at the young age of 34. Here are his stats as he returns home to spend time with his family and cats.
This might be the most bizarre simulation I have done yet and it has a lot to do with how unexpected things ended up being. Not only did I not envsion Campbell getting sent to the minors after only three years of simulating, but also be as far down as the ECHL by the end of it. It was a wild ride that I was no way ready for and I feel bad for the simulation version of Campbell for having been given such a crappy hand.
From the years that he was in the NHL, Campbell did fairly well all things considered. He may have been reduced to backup duties for some reason, but he held up his end of the bargin and had a decent few post season runs in his time with the Leafs. Had it not been for the emergence of Woll and Mrazek standing on his head, perhaps there is a different outcome where Campbell plays more like his real-life counterpart. All of which is to say that I was left unsatisfied with the outcome of this simulation.
When comparred to the previous entry in the series, I was impressed with how much improvements were made to FHM 8 and I believe the game is taking another positive step in the series development. I have always enjoyed how simple it is to navigate the menus and be able to locate stats and historical results as a point of reference; the little attention to detail goes a long way in making a game more enjoyable and one that you can invest hours in. This is certaintly one of those games and I highly recommend it if you haven’t already given it a try.
It’s times like this where I would like to remind everyone that you cannot take the final results of each simulation as holy gospel because this is a video game that randomly generates the results and is different from one simulation to the next. I hope you at least enjoyed this bizzare journey through a turbulent five year stretch for Campbell that saw him decide to hang up the skates far earlier than even I could have envisioned. I am fairly confident that things will not play out the way FHM 8 thinks it could go, but stranger things have happened so who knows.