By Cole Parkinson
The Edmonton Oilers made it all the way to the Western Conference finals in 2021-22 before running into the wall that was the Colorado Avalanche. So, with Mikko Koskinen departing to Europe and Mike Smith likely done for the season, the Oil went out and signed Jack Campbell to a five-year, $5 million deal to be their new starting goalie.
After some good seasons with Toronto, Campbell hit the market this offseason, and with the Leafs’ cap situation, it was never likely he would return — which worked in favour of the Oilers. With a need to get a starting goalie, Campbell was the best option for the Oilers. While he had a rough few months last season, injuries were a big part of that, and Campbell, if healthy, will be a great addition for the Oilers. While five years is a long time for any goalie over 30, the Oilers are in win-now territory. He got into 49 games last season and posted a .914 save percentage and a 2.64 goals against average, with five shutouts and 31 wins.
The Oilers finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific Division with a 49-27-6 record, good for 104 points. This season they’ll once again be challenging for that top spot in the division and looking at their roster, I wouldn’t be shocked if they did it.
On top of Campbell, the Oilers also signed defensemen Brett Kulak (four-year, $2.75 million), forward Gregg McKegg (two-year, $762,500), goalie Calvin Pickard (two-year, $762,500), defenceman Ryan Murray (one-year, $750,000), and forward Matias Janmark (one-year, $1.25 million) — they also resigned Jesse Puljujarvi, Evander Kane, and Kailer Yamamoto.
Looking at the Oilers, of course, you can’t even begin without mentioning they have two of the best players in the world on the team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — both of which are locked in for a long while yet. The forward group alongside Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kane, Yamamoto, and Puljujarvi is solid, to say the least. The offence is not this team’s probably whatsoever. Considering you can pencil both McDavid and Draisaitl in for at least 100 points if they’re healthy, their depth beyond that is incredibly solid.
Hyman was a great addition to the team last year and he’ll continue to be that hard-nosed forechecker that can retrieve the puck — hell, he’s probably the best player in the NHL when it comes to that.
And with goaltending hopefully solved for the Oilers, the defence is likely the biggest question mark for this team. While they did add Kulak, they see returning players in Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Slater Koekkoek, Evan Bouchard, and Philip Broberg on the backend. I don’t love the defence for Edmonton, and while Nurse is a solid option as the number one, it falls off considerably after that. It’s not the worst in the league by any stretch, but I don’t think Oilers fans are claiming they have a top 10 defence core either.
Offence is the name of the game for Edmonton and as long as Campbell and the d-core are solid, this team cruises to a playoff spot. Stuart Skinner looks to be the backup for the Oilers this season and with Campbell’s injury history, I bet he sees quite a few games this season.
The team is currently just over $6 million over the cap, according to CapFriendly but with Smith and Oscar Klefbom still on IR, $6,367,000 will be placed on LTIR come the start of the season. That along with trimming their roster down will lead to enough cap space come opening night. The Oilers kick off the season against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 12.