Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers, Calvin Pickard, Bakersfield Condors, Jack Campbell
Oilers Notebook: Welcome back to the show, Calvin Pickard
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
With the season quickly slipping away, the Edmonton Oilers made a big move on Tuesday.
The team placed Jack Campbell on waivers with the purpose of assigning him to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. Coming up in Campbell’s place from their minor-league affiliate is expected to be journeyman Calvin Pickard.
It’s quite a shock to see a goaltender placed on waivers just one month into the second season of a five-year, $25 million contract signed in free agency, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The Oilers are 2-8-1 following an infuriating loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and something had to change.
Ironically, Campbell has the higher save percentage of the goalies in Edmonton’s tandem. He’s operating at an .873 save percentage over five games while Stuart Skinner has an .856 save percentage following his seventh appearance of the season in Vancouver.
But the reality is that nobody is going to grab Campbell off of waivers considering how he’s played since inking that contract. That isn’t the case with Skinner, who carries a $2.6 million cap hit for three seasons and is a few months removed from finishing as the runner-up for the NHL’s best rookie.
Neither Campbell nor Skinner can make a save right now and the hope is that Pickard can stop the bleeding.
If Pickard can’t offer the Oilers an improvement on their .864 team save percentage, general manager Ken Holland will have to look for another solution. That would entail either A) going out and paying whatever price necessary to acquire a starting goaltender through the trade market in the middle of November or B) firing a coach with a 78-40-13 record in the NHL and hoping for the best.
Not ideal, but this is what happens when you try to solve July’s problems in November.
Anyway, that’s a conversation for down the road. In the meantime, the Oilers need Calvin Pickard to do for them what Pheonix Copley did for the L.A. Kings last season, which is to come up from the AHL and provide stable goaltending.
The Kings placed Cal Petersen on waivers last year after he posted an .868 save percentage in his first 10 starts of the season. Copley came up and gave L.A. a .903 save percentage over 37 starts, which bridged the gap between their October and November struggles and their trade for Joonas Korpisalo in March.
For Pickard, this is his opportunity to get himself back into the carousel of NHL goaltenders and earn himself a higher-paying contract next season. He’s in the second season of a two-year, two-way contract with the Oilers and he’s set to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer.
The Colorado Avalanche selected Pickard in the second round of the 2010 draft following a season in which he put up a .914 save percentage playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Pickard put up strong results playing in the AHL and was called up to make his NHL debut with Colorado during the 2014-15 season.
This was a rough time for Pickard to break into the league as he played on some terrible Avs teams at the end of the Patrick Roy era. Despite that, Pickard posted a .914 save percentage over 86 games with the team between 2014-15 and 2016-17.
The Avs left Pickard unprotected in the Expansion Draft during the 2017 off-season and he was one of three goalies the Vegas Golden Knights wound up selecting. Shortly before the start of the season, Vegas traded Pickard to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pickard had a very good season playing for Toronto’s AHL affiliate in 2017-18 and came into training camp the following year battling veteran Curtis McElhinney for the team’s backup position. The Leafs rolled with the more experienced option and Pickard wound up on waivers.
He was claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers and put up an .863 save percentage in 11 games, went on waivers again, got claimed by the Arizona Coyotes, and posted an .892 save percentage in six games.
Ahead of the 2019-20 season, Pickard signed with the Detroit Red Wings to be the third-string goalie behind Jonathan Bernier and Jimmy Howard. He mostly played in the AHL but made 12 appearances with the Red Wings over three seasons and posted an .853 save percentage.
It’s been quite some time since Pickard has seen success at the NHL level but he’s performed well for the Condors. He had a .912 save percentage in 38 games last season and has a .939 save percentage through four starts this year.
Again, all the Oilers need is decent goaltending. They don’t need Pickard to come up and have an Andrew Hammond-style season-saving run here.
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