Let me start by saying I don’t believe the Edmonton Oilers should try to trade Jack Campbell. There are multiple reasons doing so is a terrible idea, but, after a rough start to the season, (and his career with the Oilers’ franchise) plus the unfortunate injury situation in Toronto where that team badly needs a goaltender, it would make sense that some fans in Toronto might be calling for Campbell to “come back home.”
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Campbell has called his performances in Edmonton so far “pathetic”. He says he hasn’t brought his best to his new club and he’s going to work on finding his game because he feels like he’s letting his teammates down. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs lost Ilya Samsonov to injury, after already losing Matt Murray. They need netminding help in a bad way.
The bridge may potentially be burned in Toronto, but if there’s any doubt about Campbell’s future in Edmonton and the team is feeling good about Stuart Skinner, is it worth picking up the phone to find out what Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas is thinking?
Too Soon For Oilers to Give Up On Campbell
While Campbell might be harder on himself than anyone else will be on him, he’s coming under heavy fire for some lackluster play. The Oilers signed him to a five-year, $5 million per season deal when he became a UFA and they need him to play well if they’re going to make it back to the Western Conference Final. So far, he’s not held up his end of the deal.
That doesn’t mean he won’t.
Campbell is a notoriously slow starter and he tends to pick things up around this time of the season. He’s on a new team and getting used to his new surroundings. Perhaps things will turn around and he’ll be just fine. Not to mention, what message does it send if you abandon ship this early? The sample size isn’t nearly big enough to know that you’ve made a mistake if you’re the Oilers.
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One could argue Campbell hasn’t gotten the help he needed defensively. This isn’t to excuse his performances, but it is fair to say his declined save percentage is not entirely on him. My personal opinion is to ride this out, things will get better.
Then Again, There Is An Opportunity Here With Toronto
If Samsonov is out for any lengthy period of time, Toronto is in a bad way. They need goaltending help and while they may not be able to afford Campbell’s new contract, there’s likely a part of that franchise wishing they’d not dismissed him so quickly and let him walk to the Oilers in free agency. Murray and Samsonov have not worked out the way Dubas had hoped and with little option in goal, it seems clear the Maple Leafs will have to find a solution on the trade market.
This means moving out pieces to find salary cap space and potentially sending out a player or two they’d rather not lose. There may not be a fit between the Oilers and the Maple Leafs, but it could be worth a phone call just to see how badly, if at all, Dubas is looking to make a move. Campbell is familiar with Toronto: he played better there than he has so far in Edmonton. If Dubas could walk back his decision to let Campbell go, would he? Toronto has a little money on its LTIR pool to make a move. Maybe Campbell is a player Toronto would overpay for.
Update: According to Lance Hornby, Head coach Sheldon Keefe says Matt Murray should be back on the ice with the main body of Leafs Tuesday, thus the Erik Kallgren – Keith Petruzzelli tandem might not be needed too long. Samsonov is getting an MRI.
What Might a Deal Look Like Between the Oilers and Maple Leafs?
First things first, Campbell has to be willing to go back to Toronto. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list and if he’s still a bit bitter about the way things ended as a member of the Leafs, he might have no desire to return. If that’s the case, none of what comes next matters.
But, if Campbell is thinking he’d be more comfortable back in Toronto and the Leafs are desperate to get him back, what might Edmonton be looking for? The first is potential blue-line help. The Maple Leafs don’t really have that to give with their own injury issues on the back end. Jake Muzzin is out, as is Jordie Benn. The team would likely be glad to include Justin Holl in any trade, but it’s not a given the Oilers would want Holl or see him as an upgrade.
That leaves forwards, and Edmonton has some middle-six guys who are struggling. Would Dubas be willing to move Alex Kerfoot to Edmonton as part of a trade? The same could potentially be said for David Kämpf. There would be more to it, but from a few perspectives, this helps both teams.
The Oilers wouldn’t be locked into either player, they could move forward with Stuart Skinner as their starter, and get a bit more salary cap flexibility in the process. Edmonton picks up a 27 or 28-year-old that plays in all situations and both Kämpf and Kerfoot are among the Maple Leafs’ highest-ranking penalty killers. The Oilers’ penalty kill has been below average thus far this season.
Again, I’m not a fan of moving Campbell if I’m the Oilers. It’s too soon to give up on the player and it leaves the Oilers without a backup. But, any GM should be doing their job and looking at all options. If nothing else, Holland should be calling Dubas to see just what he needs or wants.