Edmonton Oilers

What does the Cal Petersen deal tell us about Jack Campbell?

In a relatively complex three-team deal between the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, and Columbus Blue Jackets, a number of notable assets changed hands. To try to digest the transaction, we might think of it as a combination of two mostly separate trades.

First, the Flyers sent defenceman Ivan Provorov, the headliner of the deal, to the Blue Jackets, for a first- and a second-round draft pick. The Kings end up retaining 30% of Provorov’s salary, the only real link between the two trades.

The Kings sent a second-round pick, a good defence prospect in Helge Grans, roster defenceman Sean Walker, and goaltender Cal Petersen to the Flyers.

Kings deal from strength

Understanding the Kings motivations here takes some nuance. The Kings are in the rare position of being overcrowded at right defence, perhaps even after this deal still. Walker was likely to be lost in the shuffle, and with younger, lower cost options might have been on the outside looking in opening night next season. Still, he is a right shot NHL level defenceman. Grans might well have been one of those young defencemen pushing for a spot, having spent the last two seasons in the AHL.

With other roster right shot defencemen, like Matt Roy, NHL right shot playing on the left side in Sean Durzi, young AHL defencemen worthy of spots like Jordan Spence, and highly touted prospects like Brandt Clarke, the Kings felt comfortable spending some of those assets to serve their roster elsewhere.

The primary “elsewhere” being against the salary cap. By shipping out Petersen, the Kings can afford to strengthen their defensive left side by extending Vladislav Gavrikov.

Just one season after signing Petersen to a three-year $5M deal, the Kings are adding quality sweeteners, not to mention a draft pick, and retaining some of Provorov’s salary to offload Petersen.

After shipping off Jonathan Quick at the trade deadline, the Kings have now completely revamped a tenured, expensive, and underperforming tandem that struggled mightily last season.

A similar situation in Oil Country?

This sounds somewhat familiar to the Edmonton Oilers situation with another former Kings goalie, Jack Campbell. Many Oilers fans might well be hoping that their team can free up some valuable cap space by offloading Campbell one year into his $5M deal.

While there were a lot of other moving parts in the Petersen trade, it does give us a framework of what a Campbell trade might look like. Perhaps based on one’s evaluation of Campbell versus Petersen, one might be slightly more valuable than the other, but the parameters surrounding a deal would be applicable. If anything, the Flyers taking on Petersen means one less suitor for a goaltender of Campbell’s ilk.

Walker’s services and the retained salary on Provorov might cancel each other out in the wash, although the fit shows some creativity from the teams involved and is tailored to their specific needs. In this case the simplest way to express the package to offload Petersen is a good prospect and a second-round pick. While these aren’t the most expensive assets, they add up.

Coming up with a similar package from the Oilers might include their second-round pick this year. An example of a solid prospect might be Xavier Bourgault, Matvei Petrov, Maximus Wanner, or Nikita Yevseyev. The Oilers equivalent to Walker might be Cody Ceci or Brett Kulak.

While this would free up a lot of cap space for the Oilers, they would be without a second goalie. Free agency might be a possible option to fill the void, but the Oilers would be rolling the same dice that landed then Campbell in the first place.

To deal, or not to deal?

Perhaps the emergence of Stuart Skinner has changed the need to have another goalie who can operate as a starter, a skill level that would demand a lower cost. Over the past four seasons, Skinner has consistently exceeded expectations with a consistent upwards trajectory. Locked up to three more seasons at a $2M cap hit, Skinner would undoubtedly gain recognition as one of the league’s best contracts if he is able to replicate, let alone improve, on his success over its duration. The risky play would be to aggressively move on from Campbell, entrusting Skinner with an unproven partner or a pure backup goaltender.

By contrast, due to the vital nature of the goalie position, as well as its inherent volatility, one could certainly see the value in prioritising a volume of quality in net. Not only is a tandem approach gaining popularity year to year, so to have both of this year’s Stanley Cup finalists used multiple goalies in the playoffs. 

If anything, the Oilers were too reluctant to turn to Campbell in these playoffs. Though the series loss to the Vegas Golden Knights can hardly be placed at Skinner’s feet, Campbell continued to perform well in his growing frequency of relief appearances. This is by no means meant to criticise Skinner, after all the netminder went above and beyond what was expected of him.

What we should really take from all this is that with two capable starters, the Oilers should be quick to roll with the hot hand, and consistent in providing the starter with optimal rest. The Oilers have proven themselves to be legitimate perennial contenders under Coach Jay Woodcroft, and are without a doubt improved from this time last season.

In the end, while Campbell is signed for two years longer than Petersen is, he does have a more extensive track record of success than Petersen does. This might have little to no bearing in the cost to offload Campbell’s contract, but it does make it easier for the Oilers to feel settled in getting on a bounce back season from Campbell. Clearly there is an avenue to move on from Campbell, should one’s appetite for cap space be greater than the valuation of future assets.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

Gregory Babinski

twitter: @axiomsofice

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