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Moving Jack Campbell expected to cost two first-round picks, Oilers listed as “aggressive buyer” ahead of trade deadline, and more

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Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
The trade deadline for the 2023-24 NHL season is exactly two months away and we’re starting to get a picture of which teams are going to be buying and selling.
From the perspective of the Oilers, a 17-6-0 stretch since making a coaching change back in November has calmed any suggestion that making a panic move is necessary, but it’s Stanley Cup or Bust in Edmonton, so the team is expected to buy ahead of the deadline.
The Oilers were listed as an “aggressive buyer” in The Athletic’s buyer and seller tiers last week, though Daniel Nugent-Bowman also noted that general manager Ken Holland will need to get creative in order to make changes because of the team’s tight salary cap situation. He said that it’ll “almost certainly” require moving one of Jack Campbell, Warren Foegele, Cody Ceci, or Brett Kulak in order to make an upgrade somewhere on the roster.
What upgrades might the Oilers look to make? Earlier in the season, adding a goaltender seemed like a must, but Stuart Skinner has played well lately and Calvin Pickard, who came up from the AHL when Jack Campbell was waived, has been a perfectly fine backup. With Ryan McLeod thriving on Leon Draisaitl’s wing, finding a third-line centre might be the team’s top priority, though adding depth to a relatively thin blueline is surely a goal as well.
Bob Stauffer said on The Panel last week that he expects the Oilers to add two or three players ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. He added that Dylan Holloway, who’s playing centre for the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, will be one of those additions, and also suggested that adding a goaltender is “a likely scenario.”
As of right now, Derek Ryan is filling McLeod’s spot as the third-line pivot between Evander Kane and Mattias Janmark, the latter of whom can fill in as a centre and take faceoffs if necessary. While Ryan has done a solid job in the role, Holloway’s size and speed would be a welcomed addition for the Oilers to have a third line that can wear down opposing defenders.
If Holloway can indeed be an effective third-line centre, it would remove one of the needs the team has ahead of the deadline, which would allow them to focus their cap space and assets on making improvements elsewhere. If it’s an upgrade on the blueline, Kulak or Ceci would likely need to go in order to make the money work, much like how Tyson Barrie was moved in the Mattias Ekholm trade. If it’s a goalie upgrade, logic would indicate Campbell has to be going the other way.
The challenge with trading Campbell and, ultimately, making an upgrade between the pipes, though, is that it’ll cost the Oilers something to move the 31-year-old’s albatross contract, and it’ll also cost them something to acquire whichever goalie they think is going to help them improve.
The most expensive of those two transactions is likely going to be moving Campbell. According to Pierre LeBrun, who spoke to Holland last week, “It probably cost two first-round picks to get a team to eat a deal that has three more years at a $5 million cap hit. That situation is going to have to wait until the summer, whether that’s a buyout or not. I just don’t see the Oilers dealing with that this season.”
Dumping Campbell is wildly expensive for a team that’s already moved a lot of draft picks in recent years. Moving Ceci, Kulak, or Foegele to add a goalie is a possibility as well, but trading any of them just opens up a new hole somewhere else. Unless there’s a goalie upgrade with a minuscule cap hit, the Skinner and Pickard tandem might have to do.

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