We take a look at four players who should see their level of play improve during the 2023-24 season for the Edmonton Oilers.
Just like that, the 2023-24 regular season is upon us. Expectations have never been higher for the Edmonton Oilers, whether it be from themselves, their fans, or the media.
The pieces are undoubtedly in place, for the Oilers to finally fulfill their potential. However, we appreciate the game isn’t played on paper; it’s all about producing the goods on the ice on a consistent basis.
Along these lines, there are certain individuals who will need to raise their game in the coming months, if the Oilers are to finally return to Stanley Cup glory. Here is a look at four players who appear set to step up and provide the necessary boost to get this team over the hump:
Granted, it’s fully appreciated there’s a world of difference between performing well during preseason games and when the real action begins. Regardless, the indications are that Campbell will step up his game in 2023-24.
Some would argue it’s the least the 31-year-old can do, after a disappointing debut campaign in Edmonton. He set career-worsts with a .888 save percentage and 3.41 Goals Against Average. (He did have a .872 save percentage and 6.00 GAA back in 2013-14, but this was achieved in just one appearance.)
This was not what was expected from a player who was signed to be the team’s main goaltender. Instead, Campbell started just 34 regular season games and was essentially relegated to backup, behind the emerging and surprising Stuart Skinner.
This led to the question of if the Oilers had made a mistake in signing the 2010 11th overall draft pick to a five-year deal? However, it wasn’t as if he’d suddenly lost his ability; rather, he had lost his confidence and was just having one of those seasons.
In this respect, Campbell did improve his play considerably, when called upon in the playoffs. With Skinner struggling, his teammate came off the bench four times and produced a .961 save percentage and 1.01 GAA. (Albeit in a small sample size which effectively translated to just two full games.)
There was still some concern the former Toronto Maple Leaf wasn’t playing with full self-belief, but the playoff performances surely helped in this respect. Along those lines, fast-forward to this year’s training camp.
Again acknowledging it’s just the preseason, Campbell has looked strong in two appearances. This is evidenced by a combined .971 save percentage and 0.98 GAA.
Overall, the Port Huron, Michigan native is playing with more self-assurance and showing why the OIlers invested $25 million in his services in the first place. All signs point towards him being back and if so the defence — which needs to be better to help the team advance further — is going to prove more formidable for opposing teams to break down.