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G30 Game Notes: Oilers Management Can’t Compound Bad Decisions

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Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
2 months ago
The Jack Campbell free-agent signing has become horrific for the Edmonton Oilers. He signed a five-year deal worth $25 million in July of 2022, but he only lasted 13 months in the NHL. He’s been in the American Hockey League for the past six weeks, while the Oilers carry a salary cap hit of $3.85m, and in 10 games he’s posted a .888Sv% and 3.46 GAA. Initially the Oilers planned to send him down, let him find some confidence, and recall him. But things don’t always go according to plan, and with every passing game, it is clear the Oilers have to abandon that plan.
The challenge is they have to find an alternative that can help the organization compete this season and beyond.
Trading Campbell will be challenging because he is owed $16m over the next 3.5 seasons, and he’s struggling in the AHL. Some have pointed to Cal Petersen as a comparison. He had two years remaining on his deal, with the same $5m AAV, and he was owed $5m. LA traded Petersen, defenceman Sean Walker, prospect Helge Grans (35th overall pick in 2020) and a second-round pick in 2024. LA had to retain $2.025m in salary (Ivan Provorov) for two seasons. Considering Campbell has 1.5 more years than Petersen and $5m more in total cash, then they likely will be giving up more to move him. Not impossible, but a difficult trade to make.
— The Campbell signing has been bad, but they can’t let it compound and become worse. Initially they wanted to give him a chance to find his game in the AHL. It made sense, but after six weeks he isn’t, and if they keep playing him regularly, now they are risking stunting the development of Olivier Rodrigue. Rodrigue has been excellent all season, despite only getting six starts. He started last night v. Calgary and stopped 38 of 40 shots. He has a sparkling 2.14 GAA and .938Sv%. He needs to play and Oilers management needs to allow Bakersfield head coach, Colin Chaulk, to play the goalie he feels gives them the best chance to win.
— I spoke with Chaulk on Sports 1440 earlier this week about Campbell, Broberg, Rodrigue and others. To start I asked him about Campbell’s stint with the Condors. In the first three games, he struggled. Then he had three solid games, but then in three of his last four starts he was sub .890% and was pulled in his last appearance.
“I think you hit it perfectly. Exactly how you said it is how it has gone. I think recently it is just goals that are going in need to be stopped. Jack is trying to find his game. When he came, he wasn’t in a place that he needed to be. Got it back to where it was and then even when he was playing well, there was a couple that he probably would have liked to have back, but we were scoring. The last game, there are three in a row that shouldn’t go in the net. It’s unfortunate. I can tell you his attitude has been great — he’s working his tail off. There is more practice time in the American League, so we are practicing hard and we are battling for over an hour a day here. But for any goaltender, it’s not the big saves that you make, it’s the ones that shouldn’t go in.”
— I asked him about the balance of playing Campbell but needing to get Olivier Rodrique playing time.
“We are down here to help the Edmonton Oilers. We have a goalie tandem in the American League and based on the numbers, our team was playing really well, and Jack got assigned to us. That’s what it is to us. It’s no different from [Philip] Broberg coming down, we’ve got to play him a lot. We have to get his confidence up. We have to coach him and teach him, that’s what we are here for. So, does it make it hard? Yeah, it makes it hard, but it’s hard everywhere and that’s the fun part about it as well. For Olly (Rodrigue), he’s been great, but he hasn’t played, so when we get the nod to get Olly in the net, then he will be ready. He’s the ultimate pro. He works extremely hard and the way that young man is, he never complains and when you call his name he goes in there and he gives you a chance. I think that Olly has made a step this year whereas last year he would play very well, but he would let a soft one in, or he would have an amazing game and we wouldn’t score for him. But for him to play those games last year when there were two injuries up top, he got that opportunity and now he’s able to close out games. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s more experienced. We’re excited to have him play some games, but we are doing what we can in the American League to get Jack going. And that’s our job.”
— The organization had a plan to try and get Campbell going, and that made sense. But now they have to change the plan. Rodrigue needs to play. Who knows, maybe he will be the internal answer, either this season or next, but they need to play him more. If they don’t then the Campbell failure becomes even more of an issue.
— Broberg needs to play. He is only 22. He hasn’t played enough the past few seasons for anyone to have an accurate assessment of what he will be as a player. It would only be a guess. He’s only played 126 games in the past 2.5 seasons, and in many of those he logged under 10 minutes of ice time. He’s played 45 NHL games and 47 AHL games where he played more than 12 minutes/game. He needs to stay in the AHL, regain his confidence, play significant minutes and then the Oilers will have a better idea of who he is as a player. Giving him away in a trade for a rental could be another terrible trade.
— I asked Chaulk how Broberg has played since joining the Condors.
“He was unreal in the first game, he played 24 minutes, and he was excellent. And then playing back-to-back, he wasn’t as good. And then he’s been, I would say, he’s just been okay in the next few and that’s what people forget, is that he had a very good first year, despite being called and up and down. I think that he was recalled about ten times. So just think about going on vacation ten times in one year flying from Bakersfield to Edmonton. Think about that if you’re flying that many times. And I get it — I’m not trying to say you’re going to the National League and you should be thankful anytime you do that for anything, to go to a game at the National, you should be excited to do that — but it takes a toll. So, he does that his first year, his next year he goes up and down here a little bit with us. And he doesn’t play that much in Edmonton so then he comes to us this year, and he has barely played. I don’t think that we know what we have. And I get it at the National League level that there’s no, we’re not coaching failings up there, they’ve got to win games, and they’re trying to win a Stanley Cup, I get that. But Philip Broberg has not played. So, he’s playing lots down here. When he’s here with us, our job is to play him, coach him, shower him with confidence, make sure that there are teachable moments, so when he’s here, that’s what he gets. I feel like we are doing a big service to the big club. But that’s what I would say on Philip. It’s been up and down, up and down, up and down, and it’s hard to get momentum.”
Very honest assessment. I wouldn’t give up on Broberg just yet. You don’t know what you have and unless I’m acquiring a player with term, I’d be leery of trading him.
—  I also asked Chaulk about playing minutes for all the young forwards. Tyler Tullio is back from injury and only played six games, but he’s played quite well in those games.
“We’d like them to be around somewhere in the teens (minutes) for all of the younger players. We would like them to be on at least one special teams. If you’re not on the power play, you are on the penalty kill. If you’re not on the penalty kill, you’re on the power play. Let’s use Xavier Bourgault. I believe that his average time has been up over 16 minutes a game. So in between that 16-20 a game for him. I think maybe at times our lowest has been around that 12-13 but we would like for all of our prospects to at least be in those teens, up around that 15-minute range if we can. And it’s pretty consistent on a game-by-game basis, but sometimes it gets down to crunch time and you’ve got to coach a little bit. You’ve got to be able to put that line on that is playing a little bit better and it’s not always the veteran guys. I think that we have gotten better as a staff that if the young guys are playing well, put them out there. We did that against Colorado in our six on five. It was a group of all young players for the most part that were out there. They had a better morning than the other guys.
“That’s kind of the earning-based philosophy we have to develop them, and they need minutes to be out there on the ice, right? And that’s that balance of teaching and accountability and developing and it’s a hard balance. Do we do it perfectly? I don’t know if we do it perfectly, but we are mindful of it I would say, that’s for sure.”
— The Campbell contract has been awful, I think we can all agree, but putting Philip Broberg in a trade just to get rid of Campbell would likely compound the issue. And that makes it worse. The last thing the Oilers need to do is have the Campbell mistake multiply into more mistakes.
— Through his first 23 games Connor Brown has not played well enough. I gave him some wiggle room for the first 10 games (month), after missing all of last season, but with no goals and only one assist through 23 games, healthy scratching him was the only option left for Kris Knoblauch. Maybe a night in the press box gives him the jolt he needs to play better. Outside of his play on the PK, he has done virtually nothing 5×5. He’s only been on the ice for three goals for and 12 against in 278 minutes. Ugly. Adam Erne has been on the ice for four goals and only two against and he’s only played 90 minutes. At least things are happening with him on the ice. I’m not saying he’s a lock to play ahead of Brown, but he should be given a shot considering how little Brown has done thus far.
— I also wouldn’t give up on Brown. He’s a $775K cap hit for this season (his $3.25m bonus overages will count next season). Putting him on waivers would be a terrible decision. A team would gladly grab him for league minimum (Oilers are on the hook for his bonuses as he reached them in Edmonton). Edmonton can’t just give him away for nothing, when they have limited depth on the right side. He will need to play well to earn more ice time when he gets back in the lineup, and a seat in the press box for a game or two is the best decision today.
— It is fair question to ask how much say Ken Holland will have over the next few months. The Campbell and Brown signings have been awful to date. Even if Brown plays well down the stretch and even better in the playoffs the $3.25m of dead cap space next season will still be a kick in the junk. Holland made some very good moves early. Adding Tyson Barrie, Zach Hyman, Evander Kane, Derek Ryan, Mike Smith, they all worked. Then he traded for Mattias Ekholm — very good. But Campbell and Brown have really backfired at a time when the Oilers are supposed to be making a push for the Stanley Cup. Campbell is a waste of $5m (I know he counts $3.85m on the cap, but you have to replace his spot on the NHL roster), and Brown will be $3.25 of dead space next season. Those are two egregious errors.
— Tonight is a battle of two 12th place teams in their respective conferences. The Devils and Oilers had a 112 and 109 points respectively last season and each finished second in their divisions. Both of them have underperformed and underachieved so far this season. We should see two teams playing desperate tonight.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you, Jordan and Chris, for their great bids yesterday on the packages. We only have two days remaining and today is our last day with packages up for grabs. Friday will be a Pyramid of Giving.
DAY 15: 🎁 Package #1: The Canadian Brewhouse Clubhouse Package.
 
  • Located in South Edmonton – Address to be given to winner courtesy of The Canadian Brewhouse.
  • Amenities: Full gymnasium with volleyball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis ball machine, Rock Climbing wall.
  • Two bowling lanes that light up, three TVs and Arcade games.
  • Can use for a staff party, a team building experience, birthday party or even stag or stagette.
  • Winner will need to book minimum a few weeks in advance.
  • Not available to the public for rental.
  • $1000.00 Food/Beverage will be supplied.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support The Gregor’s Grads.
🎁 Package #2:Wine Package:
  • A custom basket honoring the #redwinelifestyle (IYKYK) courtesy of Kerry McGowan and curated by Baseline Wine and Spirits. Package includes six Krosba Splendour glasses, one decanter and these six bottles of RED:
    — Axv Napa Valley
    — Tolaini Picconero from Tuscany
    — Orleto from Italy
    — Argot Starstruck Cabernet
    — Brand No. 95 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa
    — Dark Matter Limitless Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain
  • And a private wine tasting for ten in your home hosted by Ryan from Baseline wine and Spirits. Ryan will show up with six bottles of wine.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support The Gregor’s Grads.
🎁 Package #3: Oilers and a Sign:
Feb 11, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg (31) makes a save in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
  • Four Loge ledge seats courtesy of Trilogy Oilfield for the Oilers/Senators game Saturday January 6th. Includes a parking pass. Great seats to view the Oilers attack in the first and third periods. Face value $2000.00
  • A custom 24” x 36” sign from Steel Collar CNC. Personalize your man cave, she shack, cellar, place of business, home, Zoom backdrop or other with a custom 3D sign. Package includes design consultation with Graham and Kim as well as drawing and drafting time. Previous work photos available for browsing and inspiration at steelcollarcnc.ca. Package valued at $3500.00.
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Money raised will support Adopt-A-Teen.

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