What is the Best Path for Jack Campbell?

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Jack Campbell is struggling. When a goalie struggles it is very noticeable. Pucks go through him. Routine saves look difficult and there is no place to hide. When a forward is in a scoring drought, he can still contribute with a strong forecheck or be sound defensively and find ways to feel good about his game. When a goalie isn’t making saves there is no other outlet to gain confidence or help the team win.
Thirty-eight goalies have played 10+ games and Campbell ranks 37th in Sv% at .872. Only Cal Petersen at .868 is worse and the LA Kings just put him through waivers and sent him to the American Hockey League. Campbell is 38th in GAA at 4.12. John Gibson is 37th at 3.99.
Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell play behind the same forwards and defence, but they have vastly different numbers via SportLogiq.
Goals Saved above expected-14.4 (38th)-1.15 (18th)
Goals against average4.12 (38th)2.91 (18th)
Save %.872 (37th).914 (13th)
Slot save %.774 (37th).825 (20th)
Inner slot save %.696 (36th).806 (10th)
The Oilers aren’t an elite defensive team, so at times the goalies will be hung out to dry, but in Campbell’s case his numbers are so much lower than Skinner’s it is safe to say they are more a reflection of his play than those in front of him. One other stat, courtesy of Clear Sight Analytics, is that Skinner has an expected Sv% of .903 and Campbell is at .891. The league average is .889. So not all is lost in Campbell’s game, but he has much to figure out.
The main concern regarding Campbell is he is trending in the wrong direction.
In October he made six starts, played 308 minutes and posted a .888Sv% and 3.89 GAA.
From November 1st he made seven starts, played 419 minutes with a .858Sv% and 4.29 GAA.
His numbers have gone from bad to worse.
Campbell needs a reset, but what is the best course of action?
The organization, Campbell and the coaching staff can’t make an emotional decision. The frustration level for all three parties is high. Goalie coach Dustin Schwartz needs to find the best way to get Campbell stabilized. But it won’t be easy. Campbell has had stretches like this before.
Last season with Toronto he started incredibly well.
In his first 20 games he had a .939Sv% and 1.89 GAA.
In his next 20 games he struggled with a .885Sv% and 3.53 GAA.
He rebounded in his final nine starts with a .910Sv% and 2.74 GAA.
His season totals were .914Sv% and 2.64 GAA. The two Toronto backups were much worse in their 30 starts.
In 18 starts Petr Mrazek posted .888Sv% and a 3.34 GAA.
Erik Kallgren had a .888Sv% and 3.31 GAA in 12 starts.
Despite a significant range of quality of play over the season, Campbell finished tied for 13th in Sv% and 13th in GAA among the 31 goalies who played at least 40 games. He isn’t an elite goalie, but he also shouldn’t be battling with Petersen as worst in the NHL.


Dec 1, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
There are three options for Campbell and the Oilers.
  1. Continue to let Stuart Skinner play the majority of games in December while Campbell works on his game.
  2. Split time with Skinner and let Campbell play his way out of the funk.
  3. Send him to the AHL and let him play every game and work out his struggles.
Some might consider option #3 too drastic or emotional. It took him a few months and 20 games last season, but he did eventually find his game. Does Edmonton have the patience to do that? Or would a trip to the AHL be more beneficial? There is no easy answer, because some will argue the AHL doesn’t have NHL-caliber shooters and the game is sloppier. Both true, but Campbell’s struggles are more technical than simply facing NHL caliber shooters. He’s made himself way too small and allowed Freddie Gaudreau to beat him top shelf last night. He gave him way too much room and made it easy for him to score. An AHL player likely would have scored there as well.
The #2 option is the most likely. I could see Skinner start six of the next 10. Most goalies benefit from more practice time and with the Oilers at home for four consecutive games, and six of the next eight, they will have more practice time. Campbell will still get a few games, but he will have more time to try and find his game.
Option #1 is probably the best option for those who are frustrated with Campbell’s struggles. But it too comes with some risk. Here’s why.
In Skinner’s first five starts he posted a .928Sv% and 2.62 GAA in 344 minutes.
In his last six starts he has a .899Sv% and 3.19 GAA in 357 minutes.
Skinner is a rookie, and the Oilers need to be leery of maintaining his confidence and conditioning. Being an everyday starter in the NHL means less practice time, and usually, but not always, less practice time can allow some bad habits to creep into a goalie’s play.
No doubt Skinner will start tomorrow v. Montreal. Then the Oilers host Washington, Arizona and Minnesota. I think it is too early in Skinner’s career to state emphatically he must start all four games. I think it will depend on his play. The last thing the Oilers can afford is to have Skinner’s play dip along with Campbell’s. I’d play Skinner v. Montreal and Washington and maybe Campbell v. Arizona. But it will depend how Campbell looks in practice.
Regardless of who starts, Campbell has to work out the kinks in his game. Many veteran goalies around the NHL are not playing as well as they’d like. Sergei Bobrovsky has a .878Sv%, Thatcher Demko was at .883 before getting injured last night, Jacob Markstrom has a .889Sv% and after last night’s loss said, “I just suck at hockey right now. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to step up.”
Freddie Andersen has a .891Sv%, John Gibson is at .894 and Marc-Andre Fleury and Jake Allen sit at .898.
It has not been a banner start for many veterans. Maybe Campbell will call one of them and they can sort out their issues, but more realistically he needs to get on the ice and focus on the technical aspects of his game which are lacking.
The Oilers don’t have many other viable options at this point.


Thanks to Corey for his great bid of $7,600 on the Furnace from Legacy Heating yesterday.
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