Colin Chaulk’s assessment of Jack Campbell is not what the Oilers would have ideally liked to hear, no matter how honest the Condors coach was being.
If Oilers general manager Ken Holland could do things over, he probably wouldn’t have signed Jack Campbell. At the very least, he would have come nowhere near the five years and $25 million he offered to the embattled goaltender.
To say Campbell has been a disappointment with the Oilers organization, would be a significant understatement. No matter how talented the goalie might be — and he is — he has just never been able to put it altogether on a consistent basis.
Particularly galling for the Oilers, the 2022 All-Star has been even worse since he arrived in Edmonton. And being assigned to Bakersfield to work on his game and confidence, has not helped in the slightest.
Not exactly an endorsement
Along these lines, consider the comments of Condors coach Colin Chaulk about Campbell, during an interview on Sports 1440. As per host Jason Gregor, Chaulk said:
"“Recently it is goals that are going in that need to be stopped. When he first got here he wasn’t in a place he wanted to be, then he found it and played well, but then last game, three go in that he needs to stop. His attitude has been great, and we need him to stop the ones he should.”"
The game in question was on Saturday night, when the Condors lost 5-2 to the Firebirds. Campbell was pulled just past the halfway point of the contest, after allowing four goals on only 21 shots.
In fairness, Chaulk was actually trying to be positive about Campbell. However, you just can’t get around the reality that the coach admitted his goalie has been letting in too many goals which he should be stopping.
Further, if anything Chaulk was arguably being too positive about the 2010 11th overall draft pick. We would suggest only two of his 10 starts in Bakersfield have been strong, with him allowing four+ goals in six of those outings.
Overall, Campbell has a 0.888 save percentage and 3.46 Goals Against Average (GAA) during his time with the Condors. We won’t go as far as to say he’s in free fall, but he’s in one hell of a bad rut.
The thing is, while Chaulk’s comments were not intentionally meant to be negative, they can’t have helped. As per Jim Parsons of The Hockey Writers, it could make it hard for the Oilers to trade the goalie.
Actually, we’d probably go a step further and say the comments will make it harder to trade Cambell. The evidence is already there that he’s broken.
Consider that during his first season in Edmonton, the 31-year-old had his worst statistical campaign yet in the NHL. Not including his first year when he only appeared in one game, he had career worsts with a .888 save percentage and 3.41 GAA in 36 appearances.
Want your voice heard? Join the Oil On Whyte team!
(Forget the 21-9-4 record in 34 starts. This was the product of playing for an Oilers team which led the NHL in scoring.)
There was some hope, after Campbell performed well during four relief appearances in the 2022-23 playoffs. This hope only increased, after he looked strong during preseason ahead of this campaign.
However, this turned out to be nothing more than a false dawn. The Port Huron, Michigan native was actually even worse when the 2023-24 season began, with his .873 save percentage and 4.50 GAA in five games resulting in him being placed on waivers.
So what now?
So how is this all going to play out? As much as a trade is still theoretically possible, it just doesn’t look likely as things stand.
There’s also the case of the Oilers wanting to give Campbell one final chance to prove himself in Edmonton. However, even this doesn’t seem feasible right now, with how he’s performing.
With every passing day, the former Maple Leafs’ contract is becoming more of a burden. This clearly doesn’t help, when you consider how tight the Oilers’ salary cap situation is as things stand.
Another less than ideal scenario could see the Oilers having to seriously consider the buyout option, which would initially have a cap hit of $1.1 million next season. However, this would then be followed by hits of $2.3 million and $2.6 million respectively, before going down to $1.5 million for each of the final three seasons.
Overall, this is a tough time for the Oilers, especially with them ideally looking to bring in a quality reinforcement between the pipes. It would sure help if Campbell can rediscover some form, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone with genuine confidence that this is going to happen.