OILERS NOTES: A touch of irony with Pickard replacing Campbell in the nets

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Turning back the clock, Jack Campbell was the first goalie taken in the 2010 NHL draft, at No. 11 (by Dallas) while Calvin Pickard was the third at No. 49 (Colorado).

Now, in one of those hockey twists, they’re trading places.

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Campbell predictably cleared waivers Wednesday and took a short ride from Vancouver where the Edmonton Oilers practised at UBC to join the Bakersfield farm squad in nearby Abbotsford for its AHL games Thursday and Saturday. Pickard flew to San Jose to meet the Oilers.

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“Any time Calvin’s been around our team, he’s fit in. His start this year in Bakersfield speaks for itself, the numbers (2.03 average, .939 save percentage) speak for themselves,” said Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft, who wouldn’t say if Stu Skinner was getting the start against the Sharks or Pickard, who last played in the NHL in 2022 while with the Detroit Red Wings.

“Calvin and Olivier Rodrigue are off to really good starts and have won games for that (AHL) team and kept their team in games. For Pick to come up, it’s good on him. It’s a great opportunity. He’s got NHL experience,” said Woodcroft.

Everybody took a waivers pass on Campbell’s $5-million cap for this season and three more. The Oilers will still have $3.85 million of Campbell’s cap on their NHL books with $1.15 million buried with Bako, but moving Campbell to the minors now means fiscally they have $377,870 in cap room now. They’re adding Pickard’s $762,500 NHL cap and can keep fourth-line forward James Hamblin up when either Mattias Janmark (shoulder) or Connor Brown (suspected groin injury) are able to play.

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Campbell is back where it all started after that first-round selection. He played 229 minor-league games (Texas, Idaho, ECHL, Ontario Reign) and only two in the NHL with Los Angeles before getting to the NHL for good in 2018 with the Kings, who then traded him to Toronto for winger Trevor Moore.

Pickard has played 116 NHL games but hasn’t been in any for close to four years, a mop-up period in a Pittsburgh 11-2 blowout of the Red Wings on March 27, 2022. His most recent NHL start came on Jan. 28, 2022 for Detroit with Sam Gagner as a Wings teammate, a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh when he made 36 stops, then beat Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang in the shootout.

Pickard may wear a ball cap more than a mask if the Oilers want to ride Skinner now that Campbell is with Bakersfield. But Pickard, 30, did play 50 games for Colorado in 2016-17 with a .904 save percentage on a terrible 22-win Avs team — Jared Bednar’s first year behind their bench.

Jamie McLennan, the TSN commentator, Edmonton-born former NHL netminder and goalies coach, knows the Oilers have a Rockies-type mountain to climb to get from 2-8-1 to 8-8-1 and at least .500 but something had to give in his mind.

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“The thing is you have to start somewhere,” McLennan said. “It’s a heavy move for Ken (GM Holland), a move on a player (Campbell) that he signed but at the end of the day, he’s like: ‘Hey, this guy hasn’t performed.’ So, he’s the first guy to pay the price. It’s like he saying ‘OK, everybody’s talking about the goaltending, so I’m making a move there.’’’

At present, there’s little way Holland can offload Campbell’s contract unless he adds a sweetener or two and probably eats part of the dollars. Like adding, say, defenceman Philip Broberg to the deal. When the Oilers found a team to take Zack Kassian’s $3.2-million for two years, they sent him to Arizona for a first-rounder in 2022, a third in 2024 and a fourth in 2025.

Campbell has a 10-team no-trade list to navigate around. Campbell is making $6 million this season ($5 million salary and $1 million signing bonus). His salary goes to $5.4 mil, then $4.2 mil, then $3.9 mil in year five but the cap hit is still $5 mil.

“The guy I thought of right away was John Gibson (Anaheim, $6.4-million cap hit for this year and three more) but there’s no guarantee Gibson gets you back in order. You would be trading apples for apples at this point,” said McLennan. “But guys who have played in the all-star game, not 10 years ago, but three or four.”

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The great Glenn Hall has always said that playing goal is an individual choice, from a young age. “Nobody forces you to play there,” said Hall, who gets no argument from Grant Fuhr, when talking about the Oilers net worries these days.

“You get more criticism but that’s the fun part of the position. As a goalie, you make a difference in the games,” said Fuhr, who is doing colour commentary on the Coachella Valley (AHL farm team of Seattle) broadcasts.

THIS AND THAT: The Sharks, who are without injured ex-Oiler Matt Benning,  have traded for Minnesota Wild offensive D-man Calen Addison. He’ll play against the Oilers. They’re giving up a 2026 fifth-rounder and farm forward Adam Raska to the Wild. Addison was shopped during the summer and his role on the PP had diminished with Minnesota going with five forwards on their first unit and Jonas Brodin on their second … The Wild followed up by trading for Tampa’s D Zach Bogosian (for a seventh-round pick in 2025) … Benning was put on IR on Halloween, after averaging 18 minutes a night. He skated for the first time Tuesday, but there’s no timeline for his return … Woodcroft had all his Wednesday practice lines jumbled except for Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner. Ryan McLeod was with Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman on one line. Leon Draisaitl centered Warren Foegele and Dylan Holloway … Don’t expect Connor Brown, out for a week with a suspected groin problem, or Mattias Janmark (shoulder) to play …The Oilers had their rookie meal Tuesday in Vancouver and Hamblin was one of the kids to buck up for the tab. “I think he’s excited for it. Any time you’re up in the NHL, you’re excited,” said Hyman … UBC’s Dorrin Luding suited up as the second goalie with Campbell not there at Oilers practice at the UBC campus Wednesday before the team flew to San Jose. Luding played in the WHL in Everett, Saskatoon and Seattle. “I had to skip a few classes, I think German studies and a psych class,, but I’ll make them up,” said Luding… Looking back, Campbell was signed in 2022 because Mike Smith was 40 and his body had broken down, plus his No. 2 Mikko Koskinen was hiking off to Lugano to play in Switzerland. Koskinen, now 35, is likely on his way out after Lugano GM Hnat Domenichelli added Biel goalie Joren van Pottelberghe to play with Niklas Schlegel. Koskinen has an .879 save percentage … Back in 2010, Mark Visentin (Coyotes) was the second goalie taken (No 27). He only played one NHL game in 2014, and injuries KO’d his career. He’s now goaltending coach of the Soo Greyhounds.

Editor’s note: This story has been been updated with corrected information on the effect of Campbell’s move on the Oilers salary cap.

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