Jack Campbell has been playing well in Bakersfield but what should the Oilers do with him this summer?

Photo credit:Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
1 month ago
Don’t look now Oilers fans, but Jack Campbell is finding his groove.
The veteran netminder has had a .900 or better save percentage in five of his last six starts with the Bakersfield Condors, and as Ryan Holt points out, this isn’t just a quick two-week stretch of solid play from Campbell.
The numbers are excellent, there’s no denying that. What could be even more encouraging is that Campbell appears to be finding a level of confidence down in the AHL.
Jack Campbell with… swagger? It’s surprising to read those words together but he’s been excellent as of late and it’s leading to some fans wondering if Campbell could come back up and make NHL starts before the playoffs.
I would say it’s doubtful considering that Calvin Pickard currently has a .919 save percentage and has given the Oilers a handful of really strong starts this season. 
The Oilers took a risk by not going out and addressing their goaltending situation at the trade deadline. Plenty of fans were clamouring for a veteran backup to pair with Stuart Skinner and while I understood the logic behind it, I was always someone who said that they would be wiser to spend their limited assets on other areas of the roster.
If Stuart Skinner were to go down with an injury, then yes, this team will be in a world of trouble and if it were to happen in the playoffs, it could be a devastating blow. But, there are plenty of teams around the league who would be screwed if their number one goalie went down. The Oilers aren’t alone in that. Do you think the Canucks would be overly confident if Casey DeSmith and his .900 save percentage in a playoff game? Probably not.
Also, if the Oilers were to need a start in the playoffs, let’s not forget that Jack Campbell has been a very good playoff performer in his career and saved the Oilers’ season with his relief appearance against the Los Angeles Kings in game four of their first-round series last year.
I’m not trying to convince anyone that Campbell is going to suddenly become a $5m goalie or anything. That’s not happening, at least in Edmonton. But his recent play at the AHL level should leave Oilers fans feeling confident that if he were to come back up at some point this season, they would get better results than they got back in October.
I’m also not trying to convince anyone that Jack Campbell is some sort of long-term option for the Oilers, because he’s not.


Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) warms up before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Listen, buying a player out should always be treated as a final option. The Oilers should be searching high and low for a team that’d be willing to take the final three years of Campbell’s contract off the books.
The problem with that is a team will likely want a very high-end prospect or a first-round pick. Honestly, even that might not be enough for a team to sign up for three more years of a $5m cap hit that’s strapped to a goalie who at best will be a backup. 
Retaining 50% of his deal and finding a team willing to take him at $2.5m does make a little bit of sense because the cap hit would then be somewhat comparable to a buyout and you wouldn’t have the extra three years of dead money attached to it.
I know some people might be reading this and point to his resurgence over the last few months with the Bakersfield Condors and think that the Oilers should take the chance on running it back with Campbell as the backup next season, but even that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 
The Oilers are right up against the cap for next season and the $3.9m in cap relief that would come with a Campbell buyout for next season would go a long way in finding a top-six scoring winger or upgrading the blueline, both of which probably have to be done before next season.
Buying out Campbell comes with six years of dead money on the books but as the cap continues to go up that should be easier to stomach, especially considering the fact that the final three years come with a penalty of just $1.5m.
Even if you’re tempted to try and push this off by one season and take the risk of running it back with Campbell next year, I think the cap savings in 2024-25 are just too good to pass up. 
Also, the buyout in the summer of 2025 isn’t better. Sure, there would be one less year of dead money at the end of it, but you also would lose the one year of the buyout with the most cap savings.
You could add a veteran backup at $1m, who could give you just as good of results, and still be up $2.9m for next season and $1.6m the following year. That money will help.
Trading him should be priority number one, but that seems wildly unlikely. I think a buyout is the most realistic option in this scenario. It sucks, but it’s a pill the Oilers need to swallow this summer.
Jack seems like a fantastic human being and it’s a damn shame that things haven’t worked out better. Him bouncing back and becoming an NHL goalie against would be a great story. I just don’t think it’s going to be a story that plays out in Edmonton.


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