Usually the big trades start at or right before the NHL Entry Draft each season, but this year the action kicked off early. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and Los Angeles Kings executed a three-way trade that should have the Edmonton Oilers intrigued. Cal Petersen, a goalie who had a disastrous season for the Kings, was dumped and the Kings ended up putting themselves in a much better place already.
As the Oilers’ first-round opponent in consecutive seasons and a team they will likely have to go through many times if Edmonton wants to push deep into the playoffs, there is arguably some catching up to the Kings that has to happen for the Oilers this offseason. Just like the Kings, the Oilers can also take advantage of a rebuilding Flyers team that is open for business.
Will it Cost Oilers the Same as Kings to Dump Cap?
Before we take a look at who and what the Oilers would have to give up to move Jack Campbell in a similar cap dump situation, we’re going to take a closer look at just what it cost the Kings to move Petersen’s contract. The Kings traded Petersen, Sean Walker, Helge Grans, and their 2024 second-round pick. Grans holds the most value here, but the second-round pick and Walker also hold positive value. With two years left on Petersen’s $5 million average annual value (AAV) contract, it also forced the Kings to take on 30 percent of Ivan Provorov’s contract (just over $2 million AAV). The Kings also acquired Hayden Hodgson and Kevin Connauton, both signed for one more year at $800,000 or less.
The move for the Kings allowed them to free up $5.625 million in which they are reportedly very close to signing Vladislav Gavrikov with. The Kings weren’t as tight on cap space as the Oilers and have drafted very well over the last number of years, allowing them to utilize a player like Grans in a trade without much sweat.
There are two differences between Petersen and Campbell and how it might change the price the Oilers will have to pay from the price the Kings paid. Petersen spent the majority of this season in the American Hockey League (AHL) playing 40 games and finished with a .904 save percentage. That’s worse than each of his first three seasons in the NHL. He has also posted a sub-.900 save percentage in consecutive seasons now for the Kings. Campbell on the other hand hasn’t appeared in the AHL since 2018-19 when he was in the Kings’ organization, and it was just for two games.
The second difference is contract length. While Campbell has the edge in terms of being the better and more proven goalie, especially with his solid playoff performance this season, his contract has twice as many years remaining than Petersen’s does. Campbell has four years left at $5 million AAV, which should outweigh the slightly better season than Petersen and up the cost for the Oilers to dump him.
While the whole point of the trade for the Kings was to free up the $5.65 million for the next two years, Edmonton also has a second objective if Campbell is out, and that’s to bring in another goalie with a shorter term who can provide solid goaltending. It just so happens the Flyers are shopping Carter Hart who has one year left at $3.979 million before becoming a restricted free agent (RFA). The Kings got two depth/AHL pieces in return while there would be a high chance the Oilers would want Hart included in a return from Philadelphia. This would really up the price.
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So to lay out a baseline of what it would cost to dump Campbell to the Flyers, the Oilers would need to move Campbell, Cody Ceci, a higher-end prospect, a first-round pick, and more. Ceci has arguably more value than Walker as Ceci played on the top pairing all season for the Oilers. The higher-end prospect, likely a forward, would match or up the value Grans provided for the Kings, and since there would likely be an actual return to Edmonton, the first-round pick and likely another pick is more than the second-rounder the Kings gave up.
How Likely Are Oilers to Dump Campbell’s Contract?
The main goal for Edmonton if they were to dump Campbell would be to free up some cap space, shorten the commitment to a second goalie alongside Stuart Skinner, and to get better goaltending. After judging for yourself what it will at least cost to upgrade and free up cap space, is it worth it for the Oilers? I think the only one who can answer that question is Ken Holland and he might have already done so. The Oilers’ general manager spoke of an all-in approach based on the fact that he has one year left on his contract and he doesn’t know if he’s going to be here to see any future assets mature.
While it is good to have young players competing for NHL spots and coming into the lineup, the Oilers need impact players now. That means the likes of Xavier Bourgault, Carter Savoie, Tyler Tullio, and Matvei Petrov, all considered good young talent and not expected to be on the Oilers next season, could be on the table. Like Reid Schaefer was used to acquire Mattias Ekholm, that trend could continue.
Now there has been some support given to Campbell heading into the offseason and the expectation that he will bounce back. His first year in Edmonton didn’t go as planned at all and it forced Skinner into a much larger role. While it worked out fine during the regular season, it hurt the Oilers in the playoffs. Goaltending cannot struggle in the playoffs for a third year in a row and the Oilers have to be sure they will get better results next season. Many goalies/players do struggle in the first season with a new team as it takes time to settle in. The Oilers might hope this holds true for Campbell, but if it doesn’t, the price to dump him will move closer to what the Kings paid to move Petersen.
There are a lot of moving parts for the Oilers and Holland to think about and the choice between really going all in at a big cost or putting trust in some of the current players to bounce back. It only amplifies when someone like Hart is on the trading block and he fits the Oilers’ timeline perfectly. As the movement around the league has officially kicked off, expect a more clear answer soon in regards to Campbell, Hart, and the whole goaltending situation this summer for the Oilers.