Oilers Should Target Jack Campbell If Deal Deteriorates With Maple Leafs

Following a lights-out performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there’s a ton of talk in Toronto today about Jack Campbell and just how good he’s been this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A goaltender who is quickly earning himself the starting role, he’s also a pending unrestricted free agent, and each game he has where he’s the Leafs’ best player, the more his value around the NHL goes up.

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Campbell did confirm that he’s speaking with the Maple Leafs about a contract extension and noted, “There’s nothing more I’d love than to stay here,” but it hasn’t stopped Leafs Nation from growing a bit concerned that Campbell’s next contract will be one the team can’t afford. The question many in Toronto are asking is, ‘What happens if Campbell plays so well he prices himself out of Toronto?’

If that happens, the Edmonton Oilers should be paying attention.

The Oilers Will Need a Starting Goaltender

Regardless of what happens this season in Edmonton, the feeling seems to be that the Oilers will move on from Mikko Koskinen. Koskinen is playing quite well and having a rebound campaign, but there might be too much baggage from inconsistent seasons in the past to offer him a new deal when he too becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

Mikko Koskinen Edmonton Oilers
Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Meanwhile, Mike Smith was signed to a two-year deal this offseason and he’s already out with an injury. He’s fantastic when he’s healthy, but his health is a growing concern for the Oilers and he’s certainly not the netminder GM Ken Holland should rely on next season as the club’s window to compete for a Stanley Cup moves into its second year.

Holland has already shown he’s willing to chase a big-name netminder. He swung on Jakob Markstrom and missed. He may try again with a different name. The options are limited with Campbell and Darcy Kuemper being the two biggest names.

Campbell Could Be an Ideal Fit

At the age of 30, Campbell is pretty much everything the Oilers need. Sure, he’s only played 95 NHL games, but that’s more than Koskinen had played when the Oilers extended him and Campbell has proven a lot more in his 95 games than Koskinen had. The way Campbell is playing this season, he’s earning early Vezina talk. He’s got a .932 save percentage so far this season and he’s 25-7-4 as a member of the Leafs’ roster since coming over in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

This is his first year not behind Frederik Andersen and he’s showing what he’s capable of. He’s already given the Leafs enough data to convince them he’s their guy. It’s simply a matter of what Campbell wants or what he believes he’s going to be worth on the open market, should he choose to test it.

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Still relatively young for a goalie, Campbell is also the right age to move forward with this young Oilers core. From everything you see and hear about him, he’s a tremendous teammate and the Oilers are building a culture with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and eventually players like Evan Bouchard and Jesse Puljujarvi at the helm. Campbell would fit like a glove.

What Does Campbell Want?

Early indications are that Campbell would like to stay in Toronto. He’s said publicly as much. And, if he’s the type of player where money and the best deal doesn’t matter as much as staying with his current team, showing loyalty to a club that’s named him their starter, and sticking with this current Leafs’ core, a deal with Toronto probably gets done in the next few weeks.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

At the same time, his stock is quickly starting to rise and the Leafs only have so much cap space to work with. Should Campbell realize (or his agent tell him) he could be a $5.5 – $6.5 million goalie on the open market with a five-six-year term attached to it, that’s a tough place for the Leafs to meet him. They’d have to move one of their core four forwards and the team has refused to do so in the past. Unless they go really long-term to get the AAV down, the Maple Leafs likely need this deal done sooner than later for it not to get really expensive.

While the Oilers don’t have a ton of cap space either, they will have more room with Koskinen’s $4.5 million cap hit coming off the books, Kyle Turris’ $1.65 million going away, Josh Archibald not returning at $1.5 million, and Kris Russell’s $1.25 million deal set to expire.

A $6 million swing isn’t out of the question if Holland identifies Campbell as a guy that fits and he’s still available.