As the Edmonton Oilers prepare for their longest homestand of the 2023-24 season, we consider five questions they must answer over the next six games.
The Oilers are playing well of late and are on a season-high four-game winning streak. However, it’s telling about how horrendous their start to the 2023-24 campaign was, that they still have a losing record through 22 games.
As of Tuesday morning, the Oilers sit eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. While there’s still plenty of time to return to contention for the playoffs and beyond, the task ahead of them remains unenviable.
This is why the six-game home schedule set to begin on Wednesday night is so crucial, even at just the quarter-way point of this season. The Oilers really do need to take advantage of what will be their longest homestand of 2023-24.
In this respect, there’s a lot to consider during the coming days in Edmonton. Here are five questions in particular, which Oilers fans will want the answer to:
1) Will Campbell get his recall?
There is growing speculation that Jack Campbell will soon return to the Oilers. We’ve written previously, that we believe it’s too soon for his recall to Edmonton.
Sent to Bakersfield after clearing waivers to work on his game (and confidence), Campbell’s overall play with the Condors has been erratic. At the same time however, he has improved of late.
Consider that the 31-year-old lost his first three games with the Condors, as he allowed 13 combined goals. Since then, while not exactly being outstanding, he has won three of his last four starts.
Overall, Campbell has a 3-4-0 record in seven games, producing a 3.28 Goals Against Average and .893 save percentage in the process. Regardless, as per Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman on his latest 32 Thoughts podcast, the Oilers are going to give him one more chance to prove himself.
Now you could ask why such a rush to bring the 2010 11th overall draft pick back so soon? However, despite our stance regarding what the Oilers should do with him, we do appreciate why there is such an apparent sense of urgency.
As much as Stuart Skinner has been carrying the load of late, it’s not realistic (or fair) to expect him to do this over the long-term. Most teams are better when they have someone who can split the workload, or at least be a reliable backup.
Of course, ‘reliable’ is the key word when it comes to Campbell. While no one doubts his talent, he’s just never been consistent enough, with him performing even worse since he arrived in Edmonton on his five-year, $25 million deal.
And really, it’s this contract which is factoring into the reasoning behind why the Oilers want to give the 2022 All-Star another opportunity to justify keeping him around. As such, while not a 100 percent certainty, he’s likely to be recalled and see some playing time during this six-game homestand.