Toronto Maple Leafs: Thoughts on Jack Campbell Being Demoted

NHL blocker and stick (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
NHL blocker and stick (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /

There was a time where the Toronto Maple Leafs success hinged on the play of just one man, Jack Campbell. On Nov. 7, his current team made clear that those days are behind him when they placed him on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate.

Campbell represented the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2022 NHL All-Star game. At that time, he was quoted as saying, “This is not the pinnacle of my journey, it’s just the start.” It now appears that the goaltender may have been mistaken.

Last  Tuesday, his current club, the Edmonton Oilers demoted the 31-year-old from Port Huron, Michigan.

He cleared waivers and was assigned to to play for the Bakersfield Condors.

Thoughts on Jack Campbell Being Demoted

When speaking to reporters, Campbell was candid about his feelings on being dropped to the minors. “Pretty tough, not gonna lie,” the stopper began. “Pretty hard on myself, I think that’s pretty well documented in the hockey world and obviously it’s a result’s league [in the NHL]. I felt like I was playing well, had some confidence, but obviously the numbers weren’t good enough.”

If not for the cost to re-sign Campbell, he may have returned to the Leafs. Instead, Edmonton’s GM, Ken Holland, inked the netminder to a five year, $25M deal. Toronto wasn’t able to carry a $5M cap hit and it appears that has worked out for the best.

Unfortunately for Campbell, he struggled mightily so far this year in the NHL, where according to Evolving-Hockey he ranked as the seventh-worst goalie in goals saved above average at -4.88. Cambell’s goaltending partner Stuart Skinner ranks dead last in the NHL at -9.59.

Campbell didn’t look much better when he arrived in Bakersfield. On Thursday, Campbell and the Condors went head-to-head with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks. Campbell saw just 20 shots but only managed to make 16 saves, letting in four goals.

To make matters worse, one of the goals that got past the former Leaf had some real odor to it.

The Oilers are in a very difficult position. They aren’t saving much cap space from Campbell being in the AHL. Only $1.15M comes off their cap while he’s in the minors. That means, Campbell’s contract still eats $3.85M of the Oilers’ salary cap.

With Campbell unavailable for the Oilers, they’re left to either play Skinner or give Calvin Pickard. For those who may find that name familiar, it’s because Pickard played a season in 2017-18 for the Toronto Marlies. He was also called up for a single Toronto Maple Leafs game during the season. The Leafs lost that game in overtime.

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Eyes will be on Campbell as he attempts to work through his struggles and regain his confidence in the AHL. Unless the tandem of Skinner and Pickard catch fire, Campbell is likely to return the Oilers this season.