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Seravalli: Cost for Oilers to move on from Jack Campbell could be a first and third round pick
3 months ago
It is more noticeable than ever that the Edmonton Oilers have a hole within their lineup. Many will point to the men on the blue line, and others will look at the lack of production from the bottom six. However, there’s one spot that everyone will point to: between the pipes.
Stuart Skinner has held his own throughout his young NHL career. The start of this season has been a hiccup, but three straight games over a 0.914 save percentage in his last four starts would prove that his game is coming around. Unfortunately, the other goaltender in town hasn’t performed at the level he is paid to play at.
Jack Campbell signed in Edmonton two summers ago and isn’t halfway through his five-year deal. The Oilers pay him to be their starter with an average annual contract value of $5 million. However, he’s playing at a backup level in the American Hockey League.
Giving some credit, Campbell showed signs of improvement throughout the pre-season. He put together a great game in the regular season versus the Nashville Predators, stopping 43 of 44 shots for a 0.977 save percentage. Those efforts only lasted one game after allowing four goals versus Philadelphia, six against Minnesota, and then five versus Nashville.
For now, the Predators game was the end of the line for Campbell in Edmonton, as the organization opted to send him to the Bakersfield Condors. With his future in question, fans wonder what the team will do with Campbell.
Moving a contract of his significance is difficult but can be done. The Los Angeles Kings solved their problems last summer by moving Cal Petersen. Petersen had two years left on his three-year deal with the same cap hit as Campbell. LA figured something out with the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, which saw Petersen head to Philadelphia.
LA also moved on from Sean Walker, a 2024 second-round pick and prospect Helge Grans, to make the deal work. Additionally, they retained a portion of the salary of defenseman Ivan Provorov’s contract, a cap hit of $2,025 million for the next two seasons. The Kings saved $5,625 million at the end, which helped them acquire Pierre Luc-Dubois.
In the eyes of Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Oilers might be able to move on from Campbell for a cost lower than many expected.
“It’s probably one first-round pick and a third,” he said, noting San Jose Sharks goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood as a potential option. “It would be trade first, buyout second and retain third. You need to get rid of that contract and that’s why the buyout might still be a little attractive. What you really need to think about is next season and beyond so you want as little on the books as you can. However, the first priority should be getting him offloaded somehow.”
The evidence proves that moving on from Campbell is a possibility. It might not have been easy for the LA Kings to find a solution when they were in the mud, so why can’t Ken Holland? On top of that, Rob Blake converted Peterson and an ageing Jonathan Quick into Joonas Korpisalo and Pheonix Copley, who combined for a 0.912 save percentage in the regular season last year. Of course, they ultimately lost to the Oilers in the first round; that wasn’t due to goaltending but rather their offence.
Many names have been floated around for the past couple of weeks, with a few emerging as real candidates. The three goaltenders in Montreal, Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, look to be the front runners; however, some options still prove to be worth it for the Oilers.
“I don’t have a sense that he’s available but if you really made a push they might listen is Karel Vejmelka,” said Frank Seravalli. “Arizona is trying to be competitive but they only have their own first-round picks for the next few seasons so if you offer another one they could be interested.”
Vejmelka would be an immediate upgrade and could potentially turn the season around. He’s 27 years old with a cap hit of $2,725 million until 2025. This season, he has a 0.901 save percentage in ten games and a 3.18 goals-against average. At 5-on-5, his save percentage is 0.917. His numbers don’t jump off the page, but consider that the blueline playing in front of it has a top pairing of JJ Moser and Matt Dumba.
Whatever avenue the Oilers go down, it needs to happen sooner rather than later. It has been proven that finding a goaltender and moving on from bad contracts can be done mid-season. It comes down to being creative and being willing to bite the bullet. Can Ken Holland do that? Hopefully, we find out.
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