Oilers waive goaltender Jack Campbell amid brutal start to season

The Oilers have placed struggling goalie Jack Campbell on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to the AHL.

After a brutal start to the season in Edmonton, the Oilers placed struggling goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers Tuesday for the purpose of assignment, the team announced.

The veteran netminder cleared waivers on Wednesday, meaning he will report to the AHL's Bakersfield Condors. The Oilers called up goaltender Calvin Pickard from the Condors in a corresponding move.

Pickard figures to serve as the backup to Stuart Skinner — who has also been nothing short of a disappointment to begin the season just months removed from his Calder-nominated campaign.

Campbell has floundered to start the 2023-24 campaign, posting an .873 save percentage to go with a 4.50 goals-against average through five games. Both of those numbers rank near the bottom of the league and are a far cry from his career marks of 2.76 and .909, respectively.

The Oilers have placed goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Oilers have placed goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite coming off a brutal second half to his inaugural campaign in Oil Country, Campbell was given the nod by head coach Jay Woodcroft to start the season-opener after a solid preseason saw stock in the 31-year-old netminder rise heading into the year.

That optimism toward a potential Campbell resurgence was extremely short-lived, however, as an 8-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on opening night saw him get pulled and never come close to regaining the form of an NHL goaltender in the handful of starts and appearances that followed.

Campbell never really found his footing since inking that five-year, $25-million deal with the Oilers in the summer of 2022 in hopes he'd be the team's undisputed No. 1 after the departure of netminders Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith following the 2021-22 campaign.

During his first year with the Cup-hopeful Oilers, Campbell posted an .888 save percentage and a 3.41 GAA — both well below league average — before losing the No. 1 gig to the rookie Skinner, who ended up starting every single playoff contest for Edmonton last spring while Campbell looked on from the bench.

Demoting Campbell, who is under contract at a cap hit of $5 million for three more seasons (through 2026-27), saves Edmonton some pennies against the cap as most of the $1.15 million it does open up will go to covering Pickard's approximately $750,000 cap hit.

Campbell isn't the only Oilers goaltender struggling to stop pucks right now, as Skinner has been almost as rough while posting a save percentage in the .850s so far this season.

Most of the Oilers' struggles this year have been due to goaltending, but the team as a whole has been underwhelming after being pegged as Stanley Cup contenders by most before the season began.

The team currently sits second-last in the Western Conference — ahead of only the historically awful San Jose Sharks — with a 2-8-1 record. The Oilers are also a whopping 18 points behind the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights and 11 behind the third-place LA Kings.

It's not time to hit the panic button just yet, but Ken Holland's quivering finger is almost certainly hovering within inches of it.