Jack Campbell a Risky Bet for the Edmonton Oilers

Throughout the 2021-22 season, there were plenty of whispers that Jack Campbell’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs could soon be coming to an end. This is due to the fact that general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t have a lot of cap space to work with, and Campbell has undoubtedly earned himself a raise.

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During the time of those whispers, several suggested the Edmonton Oilers as a potential destination for Campbell. Fast forward months later, and those whispers are looking more and more accurate by the day. By almost all accounts, Campbell and the Leafs will be parting ways. And the Oilers are being discussed by nearly every NHL insider as one of the most likely teams to sign the 30-year-old this summer.

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From an outsider’s perspective, this move would appear to make plenty of sense. Everyone is well aware of the Oilers’ goaltending struggles in recent years, and with Mikko Koskinen headed overseas and Mike Smith’s career likely over due to injury, they flat out need a goaltender for the 2022-23 season. With that said, however, just because Campbell is a different face doesn’t guarantee he will be the saviour this organization and its fanbase are hoping for.

Campbell Set to Receive Massive Pay Day

With his solid numbers in each of the past two regular seasons, paired with the fact that there aren’t many goalies set to become available this summer, Campbell is going to get paid. Recently, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug stated on the ‘Got Yer Back’ podcast that he believes Campbell is by far the number one candidate for Oilers management at this time while also suggesting that the contract will be roughly five years in length with an average annual value of $5 million.

By no means was anyone expecting Campbell to sign anywhere for peanuts, but $5 million is a very, very steep price to pay. One main cause for concern is an overall lack of experience at the NHL level. Yes, goalies generally take longer to develop than players, but at 30 years of age, he has just 142 NHL games under his belt, 71 of which have come in the past two seasons. If that in itself doesn’t concern you, perhaps coming to the understanding that he wasn’t as good in 2021-22 as many are suggesting will be enough to make you weary.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While his record of 31-9-6, paired with his 2.64 goals against average (GAA) and .914 save percentage (SV%) in 49 games this past season, looks fairly respectable, they don’t tell the whole tale. Prior to the All-Star break, Campbell was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, with a 2.30 GAA and a .925 SV% in 32 outings. After, however, things went downhill in a big way.

Post-All-Star break, Campbell battled injury but also struggled immensely when healthy, recording an ugly 3.28 GAA along with a .894 SV% in 17 games. On top of that, he wasn’t particularly strong in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with a 3.15 GAA and a .897 SV%. So, the question is, which goaltender is the real Campbell? Is it the guy who looked like a Vezina candidate early on in the 2021-22 season, or one, who over the second half, looked like a journeyman NHLer at best? Given his small sample size at the NHL level, it is hard to predict, making it a big-time risk for the Oilers.

Holland in a Tough Position

By no means would I critique general manager Ken Holland and the rest of the Oilers management staff for going out and signing Campbell. The fact of the matter is they need a goaltender and will likely have to overpay for one regardless of who they get. That said, they need to be sure they do their due diligence when it comes to a potential trade for a more proven goaltender while also waiting to see what decision the Colorado Avalanche make on pending free agent Darcy Kuemper. Simply focusing on Campbell and not considering anyone else would be a major mistake.

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