Jack Campbell’s season has been difficult from the start. His performance in Edmonton’s 7-5 loss to the Jets on Saturday is the latest chapter in a book of difficult starts. In a game that saw a Leon Draisaitl hat trick, Campbell yielded six goals on 38 shots. A late empty net goal from Dylan DeMelo helped push the Jets to a 7-5 win, snapping their five game winless streak.
For Campbell, the hits don’t stop. The Oilers aren’t going to win very many games where they allow six goals, this has happened to Campbell in two of his last three starts. Campbell’s last five efforts have seen him allow six, four, six, four and four goals per game. Quick maths have that number at 24 goals over the last five. This isn’t a sustainable solution if the Oilers are expected to contend for anything this year.
It’s been like this for Jack Campbell for a large portion of the season. This season is the first of a five year deal for Campbell, a deal valued at $5MM a season. It hasn’t worked out so far. I’m not sure that it ever will. If he’s an Oiler next year, Edmonton will depend on a
A year ago there was plenty of talk about Mikko Koskinen’s ability to cut it in the NHL. Koskinen’s .903 SV% wasn’t going to burst through the wall, though it’s a full .021 better than Campbell’s current SV% today. Koskinen was vilified for allowing a goal on the first shot of a game on several occasions.
But enough with the niceties. Let’s talk about Jack Campbell’s future with the Oilers.
I was (wrongly) wildly optimistic about Campbell joining the Oilers. It took Ken Holland three years to make any sort of a serious move for a goaltender. He missed out on Jacob Markstrom, who would eventually choose Calgary a few years back. Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen had off-and-on scenarios where one would be the top netminder for short periods of time. Today? Jack Campbell isn’t the number one netminder for the Oilers. Luckily for Edmonton, Stuart Skinner has been better than serviceable.
The Oilers need to find a taker for Jack Campbell this offseason. That’s probably not going to happen. Not at 50%, not at 66%, and almost certainly not at 100%. If the Oilers can somehow get the Coyotes to bite at 50% while sending them a pick or a player, it’s got to be seriously entertained. For the clubs that don’t take on contracts that are worth more than they are paying out, I can’t see the interest.
The Oilers have to seriously consider a buyout for Jack Campbell after one year of his five year deal. I know that’s not a popular choice, but they can’t give up games where they’re scoring four or five goals. A Campbell buyout would cost the team a little more than twelve million real dollars over the next eight years, it would cost a little north of 1.5MM in cap space for years 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Years 3 and 4 would raise the cap hit to 2.5MM.
WHO DO YOU BRING IN?
It’s not often that the answer is almost quite literally “anyone”, but Campbell’s numbers don’t lie: only Spencer Martin, Kappo Kahkonen and Elvis Merzlikins and Jonathan Quick have a similar or lower SV% among goaltenders playing in more than 20 games. Buy out Campbell and you’ve freed up 3.5MM in cap space. It might not sound ideal, but would a year or two of Cam Talbot in a 1A situation? Antti Raanta? Adin Hill?
The Oilers are in a fight for the playoffs right now. They’ve got to ride Stuart Skinner for a large portion of the remaining schedule, but they’ve got to give Skinner a break from time to time. Not having a goaltender that can deliver many quality starts has already hurt them in the standings, and (barring injury) you can forget about Campbell starting a playoff game.
The Oilers are going to have to make a move in net this offseason. It’s just not the one they’d want to make, especially just one year into Jack Campbell’s long term contract.