UFA of the Day: Brian Campbell

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Brian Campbell

He just turned 37 years old, but he can still contribute. The veteran of over 1,000 NHL games had six goals and 25 assists in 82 games last season, and his puck-moving ability is in high demand.

It’s unlikely he’ll be back in Florida — not after the Panthers gave the younger Keith Yandle a five-year deal worth almost $45 million.

It’s since been reported he has “serious interest” in returning to Chicago, his last stop before being traded to Florida. But even if that’s true, the Blackhawks are going to have enough trouble re-signing Andrew Shaw. Fitting Campbell under the $73 million salary cap would take some real creativity from GM Stan Bowman.

If not Chicago, what about a return to Buffalo? The Sabres are in the market for a left-shot d-man, although they’d prefer a young one, and Campbell isn’t that.

Then what about the Boston Bruins? They’re desperate to add a “transitional” defenseman, and now Yandle and Alex Goligoski are off the board. Perhaps the B’s would prefer a younger, right-shooting option like Kevin Shattenkirk, but that would cost them significantly more than money.

Whichever teams end up pursuing Campbell — and there will probably be a few — his age will be a factor in negotiations. Of the 174 defensemen that played at least 50 NHL games in 2015-16, only seven of them were older than he was. And that short list will get even shorter next year.

To be fair, Campbell has been remarkably durable; the last game he missed was all the way back in 2011. He’s not the most physical defender, so that helps him stay healthy. But he’s human, and with age comes decline. A two-year deal might work out okay. Anything more could be pushing it.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.