In our continuing look at possible solutions to the Oilers defensive woes, our attention turns to sunny Florida and the Miami entry, the Panthers. Brian Campbell’s career as a journeyman obscures his status as a top flight defenseman who has driven results for a long period of time. Now deep into his career, can Brian Campbell help the Oilers? 


Brian Campbell has been around a long damn time. Drafted by Buffalo in 1997, he arrived as a regular in 2002 and began delivering terrific offensive seasons after the first lockout. He was sent to San Jose as a rental at the 2008 deadline and signed in Chicago that summer. Wins Stanley, ‘Hawks can’t afford him anymore, ship him to Florida 2011 summer. 

Campbell’s offense has been fairly consistent over the years (he’s had a down year or two, as well) and fans who have seen him know exactly what to expect: a fine puck moving defenseman who can help a power play, a defender who can be exposed and a man who once won the Lady Byng. 

That isn’t the ideal resume for an Edmonton Oiler defenseman. Oiler fans like their blue tough and physical, and things like hits and blocked shots are very important to the Rexall fan. However, the math tells us winning games is a lot about possession and Campbell’s been a killer in this regard for eons. 


This year’s sledgehammer shows Campbell in his natural habitat (as you’ll see in a minute). He gets a zone start pus (52%) but he also plays tough opposition—and even at 34, having an average season offensively—he still delivers a fine blue bubble. That’s a valuable player. 

This is the shortened season, Campbell had even more of a zone start push but once again faced tough opposition. Blue bubble, just as sure as sunrise.  

Crazy, isn’t it? It’s like he’s born to do this: get the zone start push, play tough opponents and flourish! Campbell’s consistency flies in the face of what we think of him as a player, but there he is in all his incredibly consistent glory. Sure as sunrise. 

Here’s his numbers on a line, and isn’t the consistency of the Corsi For % exceptional? Man, that’s the good stuff right there. Three years in a row, just rolling these things out like they’re nothing. Lordy. Breathtaking. 


Yes. Campbell has two more years after this one (at $7,142,875!!!!) and that’s a consideration. However, that also knocks some off the asset price to acquire him and Campbell isn’t 40 (he’s 35 in May). 

He’s also averaging 27:51 a game (!!!) this year and could serve as an outstanding mentor to young puck movers like Justin Schultz. 


There  are some real concerns with Campbell. He’s an older player, the contract number is high and he’s bringing many elements the Oilers already have in a guy like Schultz the younger. 

Still, those possession stats don’t lie, he could mentor J Schultz and the dollars will be easier to endure with the new cap (and it’s only two seasons). I think Campbell is a player worth considering.  

Up next: a brilliant option closer to home. 

    • YEGFan

      So the FACT that he is a successful and effective number one defenseman in the NHL is less important than his size? The cap hit is what makes him a legitimate possibility. He’d be considered one of the leagues most valuable assets at a 5-6M cap hit.

      • The Last Big Bear

        The Oil are (generally) small and easy to play against. Last night’s game was a good example. In my opinion (I go to a lot of games) they need to get bigger and harder to play against, i.e. grittier. His cap hit is 7.14 for two more years. It would probably take a lot of good assets (players/picks) to get him.

        In my opinion, he is too small, too expensive to acquire, and takes up to much cap space ($2.14 million for two more years). The Oil cannot compete with bigger, “heavier” teams. I would favour one or two cheaper, tougher d-men to be the transition until some of the younger guys in the pipeline are here and settled into important roles. Last night was a good sample of how easy the Oil are to play against. I don’t think Brian Campbell will help us compete with L.A., St. Louis, Anaheim, etc. I agree that Campbell is a valuable asset, but, all things considered, he is not what we need.

  • vetinari

    I don’t think that Campbell’s asking price would be too steep– likely a couple of prospects and/or a pick? Everyone hates his contract but with the cap projected to go up, it won’t feel as bad of a hit over the next two years.

    Also, look at it this way– if Hemsky walks or gets traded, Campbell is only about $1.6M more per season than Hemmer’s current contract and we need to rebalance the roster to get some help on the blueline. Ideally, we’d still have a Fistric or Matt Greene type of player on the backend but those ships have sailed.

  • Lowetide

    Although I think its good to start looking at D options, given how our entire d corps gets blown up this off-season, I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

    What we really need to be asking is–why would any decent veteran dman want to come to Edmonton to play? Put yourself in their shoes–yes, if they’re traded here they don’t have a choice, but we cant afford to trade for all the d slots we’re going to need to fill. In fact, we can trade for about one dman, and that’s it. The rest will need to come via free agency. Assuming, of course, we wont touch our young studs.

    So lets say we don’t put any of the young guys up on the block. How are we supposed to convince anyone to come here? Look at how we play, at the dysfunction, at the forwards who wont be defensively responsible, etc. I’m just thinking its going to be very, very hard to get any FA’s who are worth a thing to sign here.

    Vote me down all you want, but I’m still on the trade a big name player kick. Hall, RNH, or Eberle. To get back a solid dman to help mentor our youngsters on D, to help them hopefully not fester and flail all the way to another bottom finish next year

    • two smokes

      A big bag of money. But seriously. Overpay for guys like Campbell who can give you 2 solid years of player, work as a mentor, and play your top minutes until guys like Nurse can take the load.

      • Lowetide

        We tried the big bag of money approach. With a guy like Hendricks, no less. He passed. A 4th line grinder passed on a big bag of money so he wouldn’t have to come here. Granted, he ended up getting traded her anyways, but the point is…I’m not sure big bags of money are going to do it for guys who may be getting offered decent sized bags of money from other teams

        • Word to the Bird

          Or he passed so he could stay in a city he knows and is familiar with, where his wife and kids live and go to school. You picked a very poor example.

  • Zarny

    I would definitely agree that he is worth a long look. I think I would be more effective if we could acquire him AND an additional top 4 guy. If we’re looking for guys who can “fix” the Oilers blue line, I don’t see him doing that alone.

    • two smokes

      I don’t think we gotta look to much for d. We have a lot of depth coming in the system I think we need a solid number one just to help bring the young d into to the nhl. Not sure if Brian Campbell fits that role. Lowetide?

      • Lowetide

        Well, he’s playing the toughs and getting a blue bubble, so there’s that. There are others in the series I like better, but for me Campbell is certainly a viable option.

      • two smokes

        I would say he defiantly fills that role. The oilers need mentor ship, which they could have used 3 years ago. Let’s face it the oilers won’t win the cup in the next 3 years. There is just no way. So let’s spend some money and get someone in here who can teach.

        Not only could he help Schultz, but Marincin could also benefit from him. Who cares about his cap hit, we need a #1 D.