In the midst of the NBA Playoffs is also the Stanley Cup Playoff, and one of the most interesting first-round matchups of the NHL has been the Toronto Maple Leafs against the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Maple Leafs currently lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. eastern. A big reason for the Maple Leafs lead thus far against the reigning champions is an unsung hero, David Kampf, an undrafted forward from 2012 who has been instrumental in the Leafs success thus far.
Just last year Kampf, 27, scored one goal in 56 games for the Chicago Blackhawks. Once he signed a $3 million contract on July 28th, no hockey expert or people from the Toronto fanbase would’ve believed you if you said he was going to become an offensive option for them against the two-time champions in the Lightning.
Since his time on the Leafs, Kampf has been the most reliable singular defensive forward in the offensive zone against top teams if you look at defensive metrics. His teammate Mitch Marner had high praise for Kampf after their Game 1 victory when he stated, "He's a lot of fun to be out there with on the penalty kill, he's so smart with his stick position, obviously on faceoffs he's a bull — he can win a lot. The communication with him is high. He's not afraid to get in lanes, break up passes, step up in the neutral zone. He's done a great job for us all year long.”
Kampf was also responsible for scoring what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 5-2 victory in Game 3 against the Lightning on Friday. The Maple Leafs are 13-0 in games Kampf has scored this season.
He has more goals in this series (two) then he did last season as a Blackhawk (one). Kampf has been a steady defensive presence for this Maple Leafs team who has scored big goals down the stretch. He is a major reason why his team currently leads the series, and could possibly pull a major upset if they continue to do what they did in Game 1 and Game 3. Can the Maple Leafs pull off the upset over the two-time champions Tampa Bay Lightning? Kampf’s production will be a huge factor in their ultimate result.