Considering where the Oilers go with their goalie situation

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 19: Jack Campbell #36 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on before playing against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 19, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 19: Jack Campbell #36 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on before playing against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 19, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

With Jack Campbell being placed on waivers, what do the Edmonton Oilers do in their attempts to improve the situation between the pipes?

It seems Sportsnet‘s Mark Spector might have known more than he was letting onto. Regardless, his comments about the Edmonton Oilers losing faith in Jack Campbell turned out to be prophetic.

Even though it was Stuart Skinner who allowed the six goals versus the Canucks on Monday night and has the worse overall save percentage, it’s Campbell who has paid the price. The Oilers announced on Tuesday that the latter had been placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment.

In some ways, this move sums up what has been a surprisingly disappointing start to the season for the Oilers. With a 2-8-1 record through 11 games, they have the second-fewest points in the NHL thus far.

There is plenty of blame to go around the team, so it almost seems unfair that Campbell would be singled out (in a manner of speaking). At the same time however, it makes sense when considering he is only in the second season of a five-year, $25 million contract.

Talented but streaky

No one doubts that the 2022 All-Star has the talent needed to succeed in the NHL. However, he has proven to be too inconsistent during his time in the NHL, particularly since he arrived in Edmonton.

Campbell’s record of 21-9-4 in 34 starts last season was decent enough. However, he also had single-season career worsts with a .888 save percentage and 3.41 Goals Against Average. (He only played one game in 2013-14.)

Somehow, the 2010 11th overall draft pick was off to an even worse start in 2023-24. Through five starts he had a 1-4-0 record, to go along with a .873 save percentage and 4.50 Goals Against Average.

Campbell and Skinner have both been hung out to dry too often already this season, by the players in front of them. However, they also have made too many mistakes of their own, not stepping up when (desperately) needed between the pipes.

Campbell really was expected to have a bounce-back year, after performing well in four relief playoff appearances last season and looking good during preseason. In the end though, it proved to be fool’s gold.

Assuming the 31-year-old clears waivers — and he should — he will be assigned to Bakersfield, to play with the Condors. As per PuckPedia, in this scenario the Oilers will save $1.15 million against the cap. (The buried limit for this season.)

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Pickard set to get the call

Of course, this leads to the question of what the Oilers will do with their goaltending situation? In the immediate future, the indication is they will recall Calvin Pickard from the Condors.

Pickard has been playing well so far this season in the AHL, despite a 2-2-0 record. As the Condors’ main goaltender, he has a .939 save percentage and 2.03 Goals Against Average in his four appearances.

The Moncton, New Brunswick native has a similar reputation to Campbell, i.e. considered talented but inconsistent. However, he at least has some experience at the NHL level, in Colorado, Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia and Arizona.

Overall, Pickard has 93 NHL starts (116 games in total) and a 35-54-10 record. He also has .903 save percentage and 3.04 Goals Against Average, which sadly for the Oilers would be an upgrade over the goalie production they’ve had so far.

As per PuckPedia again, what’s interesting is that Pickard’s salary means the Oilers will only be making a net saving of $387,500 against their annual cap hit. If they decided to recall Olivier Rodrigue instead, the net saving would be $375,000.

Skinner needs to rekindle last season

With Campbell off the Oilers’ roster, they will now be even more pressure on Skinner to play well. He’s had a nightmare season himself so, with a .856 save percentage and 3.99 Goals Against Average.

This is the same player who had a breakout campaign last season, as he finished runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy. He went 29-14-5 in 48 starts, recording a .913 save percentage and 2.75 Goals Against Average.

Unfortunately for everyone concerned, the seeds for this season were sown during a poor showing during the playoffs. The 25-year-old went 5-6-0 in 12 starts, producing a .883 save percentage and 3.68 Goals Against Average in the process.

Again, it must be stressed the blue line and the defensive effort of the team in general has been atrocious so far in 2023-24. Regardless, Skinner needs to improve and Pickard must provide solid backup.

Next. 3 Takeaways as Oilers suffer another loss to the Canucks. dark

Pending the Oilers’ goalie play improving considerably, you would assume they’ll be looking to make a trade sometime prior to the March 8 deadline. Who they target will be of significant interest, although you have to wonder if the team will already be in a hole from which they cannot recover, after entering the season as genuine Stanley Cup contenders.