The Edmonton Oilers are on a roll right now, with the 2-1 victory on Tuesday night versus the Blackhawks helping maintain a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are on their second eight-game winning streak of the season and once more have the opportunity to tie the franchise record of nine straight.
Certainly, the turnaround under Kris Knobauch has been nothing short of sensational. He is 18-6-0 at the time of posting, while also setting an NHL record in the process.
Despite the turnaround however, there is still plenty for the Oilers to do, more at the defensive end of the ice. For all the improvement by the likes of Stuart Skinner, Mattias Ekholm, Evan Bouchard and company, the Oilers are still only 18th-best in average goals allowed per game and 24th in team save percentage.
Along these lines,The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman has the Oilers listed as aggressive buyers at the trade deadline. (Subscription required.) Nugent-Bowman writes:
'The Oilers have played in five playoff series over the past two springtimes, and Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are nearing the ends of their respective contracts. After a 14-3 run in their past 17 games and charging up the Western Conference standings, they have to be all in. They’re capped out and have little in the way of tradeable assets, so it’s time to get creative, especially since there are holes to fill.'
Campbell still in the mix
One of the players Nugent-Bowman contends the Oilers will have to try and move to upgrade the roster, is Jack Campbell. Certainly this would help specifically with the team's current tight salary cap situation, with Campbell's annual salary of $5 million and with three more seasons remaining after this one.
However, this is of course easier said than done. Aside from the 2022 All-Star being an expensive addition for another team to accept, there's also the not too small matter of him just being terrible, and that's no hyperbole.
Last season saw Campbell have a truly awful campaign for the Oilers, as he set qualifying career worsts with a .888 save percentage and 3.41 Goals Against Average. He was on course for an even worse 2023-24 season, before the decision was made to send him to the Condors after clearing waivers.
The situation has mostly been just as bad for the 2010 11th overall draft pick in Bakersfield, with him eventually losing his starting job to Olivier Rodrigue. To say Campbell isn't an appealing project for another team, is a major understatement as things stand.
Not worth the price to move Campbell
With this in mind, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun recently suggested the Oilers will likely have to offer two first round picks, in order for a team to take on Campbell and his contract. That's apparently what it's come to, for a team which is projected to have projected deadline cap space of $920,722. (Information courtesy of Cap Friendly.)
However, this is just too steep of a price for the Oilers to give up, just to get the just turned 32-year-old off their books. It was bad enough, with the recent speculation that the team would include Philip Broberg in any deal to get rid of the embattled goalie.
Yes, the Oilers still need to upgrade the roster in order to help clinch a playoff spot and then contend for that elusive Stanley Cup trophy. However, giving up even one first round pick is tough enough, never mind two.
At least the goalie situation is not as dire as earlier in the season, with Skinner's excellent form of late, combined with steady backup from Calvin Pickard and Rodrigue waiting in the wings for an opportunity. As for Campbell, we will revert back to our recent suggestion, that the Oilers need to seriously consider the viability of buying him out.