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Oilers recall goalie Calvin Pickard from AHL after Jack Campbell clears waivers

Edmonton Oilers goaltenders Jack Campbell, left, and Calvin Pickard celebrate the team's 6-2 NHL win on Jan. 11, 2023, over the host Anaheim Ducks. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press) Edmonton Oilers goaltenders Jack Campbell, left, and Calvin Pickard celebrate the team's 6-2 NHL win on Jan. 11, 2023, over the host Anaheim Ducks. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The Edmonton Oilers are hoping for a Pick-me-up in goal, and in general, with their latest move.

The NHL squad called up goalie Calvin Pickard from their minor-league affiliate Wednesday afternoon after Jack Campbell cleared waivers.

The 31-year-old Campbell — who was signed by the Oilers 16 months ago to a five-year, $25-million contract to be the starting goalie only to lose the spot last season to Stuart Skinner — has a win-loss record of 1-4 for the Oilers this season along with a 4.50 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage.

Campbell's save percentage is second worst among NHL goalies this season, second only to Skinner's .856 mark.

The move came in the wake of the Oilers' latest defeat, a 6-2 loss Monday to the host Vancouver Canucks, to continue their season-starting swoon that's seen Edmonton win just two of their first 11 games of the 2023-24 NHL slate, a disappointing stumble unexpected by many fans and pundits who've pegged them Stanley Cup contenders.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell skates off the ice after allowing an overtime goal by Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)When asked how he tries to minimize the impact of Campbell being reassigned to the minors on the rest of the players, Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said he "didn't see any negative impact at all" in the dressing room following the move.

"Jack's a popular teammate. Maybe it serves as a little bit of a wakeup call for a lot of guys," Woodcroft told media following practice Wednesday in Vancouver before the team travels to San Jose for Thursday's game against the last-place Sharks. "The message that gets sent is we're 2-8-1. For us to come back and just keep trotting the same thing out, we can't do that. It's not acceptable. Unfortunately, for someone of Jack's character and someone who's such a great teammate, he's one of those pieces that is being forced to move ... That's not fun for any of his teammates, it's not fun for his coaches, it's not fun for the managers."

Oilers forward Evander Kane told reporters he felt he and his teammates have let Campbell down.

"Soupy's a guy who, for me, regardless of the numbers, he's played incredibly well for us," Kane said. "Have there been some goals that he maybe wants to have back? Sure, but there are a ton of plays as a group we'd (want to) have back. You look at that Minnesota game (a 7-4 loss Oct. 24 to the host WIld), if you want to talk numbers, he lets in (six) goals, but he might've been the best player on the ice that night."

Oilers forward Zack Hyman, who was also a teammate of Campbell's with the Toronto Maple Leafs, called the goalie's demotion "a part of the journey for him."

"You look around the history of any player that's had ups and downs in his career — everyone's had ups and downs," Hyman said. "Some people have bigger ups and bigger downs — and knowing Jack, I think he's going to go down there and get his game on track ...

"As a teammate, it sucks. We let him down. We've given up a ton of high-danger chances for our goalies. I think everybody looks at our goalies' save percentage, but not every shot's the same. There are shots that have a way greater chance of going in than other shots, and I think collectively as a team, we haven't put Stu and Jack in a position to be the best of their abilities."

Edmonton Oilers' goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets' Daniel Torgersson (40) as Jayden Grubbe (42) defends during third period NHL preseason action in Winnipeg on Monday September 25, 2023. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press)Pickard, 31, is in his second season with the Oilers organization and had been splitting net duties with the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors with Olivier Rodrigue, posting a 2-2 record with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage.

The 10-year pro has played 116 NHL games with five different teams over his career, including the bulk of the duties for the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17, when he played 50 games for the Denver-based squad.

"Any time he's been around our team, he's fit in," Woodcroft said of Pickard. "Numbers speak for themselves. Both him and Olivier Rodrigue are off to a really, really good start, have won some games for that team down there (in southern California), have kept their team in games. For Picks to come up, it's a great opportunity for him ... but it's an opportunity for Jack campbell as well. He and I talked about this yesterday. It's an opportunity for him to go play a lot, refine some aspects of his game, get back to feeling confident and we'll see where he ends up."

When asked if Pickard is expected to see NHL action or if he's mostly being considered a backup to Skinner, Woodcroft wouldn't commit to a scenario.

"We'll see how it plays out," he said. Top Stories

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