Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Fits and Jack Campbell’s Future
2 months ago
The Oilers are heading into a nice five-day break and the vibes really couldn’t be any higher.
They completed a third-period comeback against the Winnipeg Jets and have now won four games in a row. They’re inching closer and closer to a wild card spot and are really starting to look like the Edmonton Oilers team that nearly won the Pacific Division last season.
Things are going well, but that doesn’t mean the Oilers are magically a perfect hockey team. I still think they need to be looking at the goaltending market. They’ll likely need to beef up their bottom six at some point this season, and an upgrade on the right side of their blueline would be a nice addition as well.
For today, let’s focus on the goaltending.
There’s suddenly been a lot of talk about the Oilers recalling Jack Campbell on the heels of him having a string of solid games with the Bakersfield Condors, and honestly, I don’t get it.
Yes, having a .900 or better save percentage in three straight AHL games is a nice bit of progress for the Oilers’ $5 million goalie, but they need to be 100% sure that his game is in a good spot.
While the situation is ugly right now, can you imagine how much worse it could be if they call him up for a game and he doesn’t play well? They need to be certain.
On one hand, bringing him up for a game against a team like the Chicago Blackhawks might be a good chance for him to get some confidence at the NHL level.
But also if I was the Oilers, my main priority would be managing Stuart Skinner’s workload and you can do that for the next few weeks without bringing back Campbell.
Their next four games coming out of the break are against the Hurricanes, Wild, Devils, and Blackhawks. You could easily give Pickard the game against the Hawks and give Skinner the rest of the games on the homestand and his workload wouldn’t be that strenuous.
I think calling up Campbell right now is a rushed move.
I also think a trade right now might be a bit of a rushed moved, which brings me to my next point.
A DEAL WITH THE BLUE JACKETS?
Apr 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) makes a save against the Edmonton Oilers in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
There is a lot of talk that the Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets could be potential trade partners. The Oilers have reportedly had scouts at a couple of their games over the last week and a deal between the two sides would make sense.
The Blue Jackets have both Elvis Merzlikins and Spencer Martin currently on their roster and Daniil Tarasov is getting closer to returning to the lineup and he’s viewed as their goalie of the future. It would make sense that they’re open to moving one of the three.
Spencer Martin was a waiver claim earlier this season and has put up a .903 save percentage through nine games with the team this season. The 28-year-old has now appeared in 47 career NHL games and has a career .889 save percentage.
He would probably cost very little to acquire, but I’m not sure how significant of an upgrade he would even be on Calvin Pickard.
I suppose Elvis Merzlikins could be made available but I have a bit of a harder time believing that. He’s under contract for three more seasons with a cap hit of $5.4 million. Unless the Blue Jackets would be willing to take back Jack Campbell, which I suppose is possible, then I don’t see Merzlikins as a fit.
Merzlikins has battle consistency issues throughout his career but he’s also been stuck with a team that always struggles to defend. He has a career .906 save percentage and he’d be an upgrade on Campbell, there’s no doubt about that, but his contract stinks.
If the Oilers are going to pony up the assets needed to get out of the Campbell deal, they shouldn’t also bring in another oversized contract.
Now, I am intrigued with the possibility of the Oilers finding a way to put together a bigger deal with the Blue Jackets.
Columbus has a handful of right-shot defensemen on their roster and it sounds like they could be open to moving one of them.
Both Andrew Peeke and Adam Boqvist made appearances on Frank Seravalli’s latest trade targets board, as did forwards Jack Roslovic and Alexandre Texier.
Peeke has two more years on a contract with a cap hit of $2.75m and is a solid top-four defenseman. If the Oilers wanted to bolster the right side of their blueline, Peeke would be an interesting option.
Now, the cap hit is a little rich if you’re just looking to upgrade on Vincent Desharnais, but again, if this is a bigger deal and you can convince the Blue Jackets to take Campbell’s contract, then maybe this can work.
My dream target from the Blue Jackets isn’t a goalie or a defenseman though. It’s Boone Jenner.
Now, he’s the Blue Jackets Captain and is under contract for two more seasons at a very modest $3.75m. He’s also currently leading the team in goals so there’s little reason to think that the Blue Jackets would be the slightest bit open to moving him, but if their disappointing start to the season is enough to convince them that they need to really tear things down, then maybe you could make an offer juicy enough to convince them that they should part ways with one of their longest serving players.
Jenner would slide onto the Oilers’ third line beautifully and help give them an elite layer of depth behind McDavid and Draisaitl. He could help out defensively and ease the need to play their star players on the penalty kill. His cap hit is very manageable too.
He would be a dream fit and it sounds unrealistic, but remember, 12 months ago nobody thought that Mattias Ekholm would be available.
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