The Oilers have finally made their first significant move in goal since Ken Holland was brought on. It was Ken Holland who brought on his second big free agent from Toronto in as many years when he invested heavily in Jack Campbell this offseason.
Campbell will be asked to do some heavy lifting for the Oilers this season. Replacing Mike Smith was something that should have happened prior to 2021, but the Oilers finally got it done in July. Signed to a five year deal by Ken Holland, what will his first season look like in Oiler colours?
Jack Campbell was taken by the Dallas Stars in the first round of the Taylor Hall Draft back in 2010. The eleventh-overall selection would graduate from the OHL as a member of the Soo Greyhounds and spend five years with Dallas’ AHL club, the Texas Stars. He’d make only one appearance for Dallas over that span before being sent to the Kings for defenceman Nick Ebert in the summer of 2016. Once in LA, Campbell would split time between the big club and Ontario, garnering 20 NHL wins between 2016-17 and 2019-20. He’d perform well in two of three NHL seasons before getting jettisoned to the Toronto Maple Leafs in February of 2020.
It was in the Covid shortened season that Campbell would really get things cooking in Toronto. He’d post an overall SV% of .921 (.925 EV), he’d pick up a couple of shutouts, and he’d put up a nice looking 17-3-2 record in 22 games played. The Leafs would hang onto Campbell, while Frederik Andersen would find himself in Carolina the next season. Campbell would put up a little less lovely .914 on the season (.914 SV% EV), but that number was less important to a lot of people compared to a 31-9-6 record in the regular season.
Now a member of the Oilers, what can we expect to see from Jack Campbell in his first year?
Let’s compare Campbell to outgoing netminder Mike Smith. They’re two very different goaltenders, but the Oilers had three seasons (!) of Mike Smith, so it’s fair to compare the incoming netminder with the one placed on LTIR.
Campbell is the number one goaltender going into the season. There’s no reason for the club to be obsequious or dodgy when talking about who’s number one, and who’s number two. Campbell is expected to handle the lion’s share of the games, while Stuart Skinner is expected to pick up the slack. If Campbell plays something like 50-55 games, that will give the Oilers a pretty good idea about how their number two man should something happen with Campbell. Let’s hope we don’t get to that point.
Jack Campbell seems like a good bet to remain durable for the 2022-23 season. He had a rib injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks last season, the Oilers have been on a never-ending IR carousel with Mike Smith in net. The age 30 Campbell is a much better bet to have an injury-free campaign than Smith, who battled through significant injuries all through his tenure in Edmonton.
Though Smith had some good chunks of play throughout his time with the Oilers, consistency was an issue throughout his playing career in Edmonton. Smith put together some great stretches, but injuries limited him to 99 regular season games over three seasons in Edmonton. Conversely, Jack Campbell has played just 135 career games since being drafted twelve years ago. The majority of those have taken place over the last two seasons, the Oilers are hoping for a whole lot more in the next half-century.
There’s a difference between a goaltender that will win a lot of games as a member of an organization versus one that will win a lot of games for an organization. Jack Campbell has the chance to really go far as the starter in Edmonton, and he’s got a good chance at making that happen if he can remain healthy for 55 games. Campbell’s a confident goaltender who can make the big save (see above), and he’ll be called to do that on occasion with Edmonton’s current D corps. He’ll be happy to win lots of 5-2 games, but I think he’ll be a much more consistent option for the Oilers going forward than in seasons past.
I like Campbell to win about 32 games this season, to post an all-around SV% of about .916 and to have four shutouts in 55 games played. Get him in the playoffs and see what happens. The Oilers are looking for the goaltender who can help them take their game to the next level. With regards to Jack Campbell, I’ll take consistency in net, and to let the stars do their job up front.