What could have been with Jack Campbell in Edmonton for the Oilers

Jack Campbell is done after the Oilers bought out his contract, but there is a case of 'what if?' when it comes to the talented but inconsistent goalie.
Edmonton Oilers v Minnesota Wild
Edmonton Oilers v Minnesota Wild / David Berding/GettyImages
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It's finally over for Jack Campbell in Edmonton. As confirmed on social media, the Oilers have placed him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout.

You know an organisation is desperate to get out of a situation, when they buy out a player's contract. In the case of Campbell this is particularly prevalent, as they will have cap hits on their salary cap for each of the next six seasons as follows:

SEASON

CAP HIT

2024-25

$1.1 million

2025-26

$2.3 million

2026-27

$2.6 million

2027-28

$1.5 million

2028-29

$1.5 million

2029-30

$1.5 million

Clearly this is not the type of legacy Campbell wanted to leave with the Oilers, but it became a necessity for the organisation. The annual $5 million salary combined with his play, was just too much to overcome, no matter how decent of a man he is. (Extremely so, among teammates, the front office, fans and even the media.)

A major step backwards for Campbell in Edmonton

The form displayed by the 32-year-old during his time in Edmonton, was the worst of any of the NHL teams he started for. In 41 games for the Oilers -- including 39 starts -- he might have produced a 39-22-13 record in net, but his overall .886 save percentage and 3.53 Goals Against Average (GAA) were significantly poorer than with the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maples Leafs.

(We're not including Campbell's time with the Dallas Stars, by virtue of him only making one appearance for them. Although this was tough in its own right, allowing six goals on 47 shot attempts.)

After a tough first campaign in Edmonton, it was expected (hoped) that Campbell would bounce back, especially after an impressive preseason. However, he was subjectively even worse this past season, resulting in him being sent down to Bakersfield to work on his game.

Once down in the AHL though, it actually get even worse for the Port Huron, Michigan native. He continued to perform so poorly, that at one point he was replaced by Olivier Rodrigue as the Condors' main goalie after some comments from coach Colin Chaulk, which weren't exactly an endorsement.

Critics may well knock the Oilers' now former general manager Ken Holland, for signing Campbell to a five-year, $25 million deal in the first place. However, this is done with the benefit of hindsight, even allowing for the contract probably even at the time seeming slightly excessive.

What Holland was doing was a gamble, but a worthwhile one when considering what the 2010 11th overall draft pick had shown during his time in Los Angeles and Toronto. The goalie produced around a .917 save percentage and 2.50 GAA at both stops, and did well enough to earn his first ever NHL All-Star selection while with the Leafs.

A too inconsistent talent

However, to say Campbell is a frustrating player, can be considered somewhat of an understatement. He clearly has the size, athleticism and talent to succeed, but he is just too inconsistent, not helped by his lack of self belief at times. (Something which he admitted to, in another candid moment which explains why he is well-liked around the NHL.)

Despite this up-and-down form though, no one could have predicted just how poorly Campbell would perform once he arrived in Edmonton. Yes he wasn't helped by the changing defensive schemes and personnel in front of him, but he was still worse than could/should have been expected.

In respect of his mercurial talent, the 2022 All-Star did have his moments in Edmonton, specifically during last season's playoffs. He excelled in four relief appearances for a struggling Stuart Skinner, and in reality should have started some games once it became clear his teammate was not going to get their mojo back.

In addition, as poorly as Campbell's tenure with the Condors began, he did eventually bounce back and prove he had something left in the tank. In fact he eventually ended up with a better save percentage and GAA on the AHL season compared to Rodrigue.

Next. Evander Kane reportedly set to be traded by the Oilers. Evander Kane reportedly set to be traded by the Oilers. dark

Overall though, there just wasn't enough there to justify keeping Campbell around for even one more season. As a result, it's a case of what might have been for a player who has the type of talent you want in a goalie, but will likely go down as someone who ultimately wasted their potential.

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