Edmonton Oilers add goaltender Jack Campbell, carry again ahead Evander Kane

The Edmonton Oilers have made a big step in addressing their goaltending, signing free agent Jack Campbell. The Oilers announced the five-year deal Wednesday, saying it carries an average annual value of US$5 million.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have made a big step in addressing their goaltending, signing free agent Jack Campbell.

The Oilers announced the five-year deal Wednesday, saying it carries an average annual value of US$5 million.

Edmonton was busy on the opening day of free agency, also re-signing forward Evander Kane and defenseman Brett Kulak to four-year contracts.

Campbell, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, taking over starting duties last season after the departure of Frederik Andersen for Carolina.

The six-foot-three, 207-pound native of Port Huron, Mich., posted a 31-9-6 record with a 2.64 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 2021-22 and was named an Atlantic Division all -star.

He was 3-3-1 with a 3.15 GAA and an .897 save percentage as the Maple Leafs were ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.

Campbell’s future in Toronto was all but ended when the Maple Leafs acquired goaltender Matt Murray from Ottawa on Monday.

Originally selected 11th overall by Dallas in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Campbell has played seven seasons in the league, spending time with the Stars, Leafs and LA Kings.

He will be counted on to stabilize Edmonton’s crease after an up-and-down season from veteran Mike Smith and the departure of Mikko Koskinen to HC Lugano in Switzerland.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland expects Campbell to form a goaltending tandem with 23-year-old Stuart Skinner, who split last season between Edmonton and AHL Bakersfield.

Holland hopes Campbell starts as many as 50 games next season.

The 40-year-old Smith, meanwhile, is likely to end up on long-term injured reserve.

“I’m not expecting Smitty to play this year,” said Holland. “He has a lot of health issues”

The Oilers also made Kane’s return official, announcing they have signed the forward to a four-year contract with an average annual value of $5.125 million.

Kane said on social media Tuesday night that he was returning to Edmonton. The 30-year-old Vancouver native was set to become a free agent and had been given permission by the Oilers to talk to other clubs.

The Oilers initially signed Kane on Jan. 27 after the San Jose Sharks terminated the remainder of his contract for violating COVID-19 protocols while in the American Hockey League.

Kane is challenging the Sharks’ decision by filing a grievance through the NHL Players’ Association.

If an arbitrator rules in Kane’s favor, it could mean his contract with San Jose is reinstated, and he goes back to being a member of the Sharks.

“For me, it all comes back to Evander wants to be in Edmonton and he wants to play for the Edmonton Oilers,” Holland said Wednesday. “And I am comfortable that is going to happen.”

Kane made an immediate impact in Edmonton, scoring 22 goals and adding 17 assists through 43 regular-season games.

“He fit in real well,” Holland added of Kane. “At the end of the year when we went through our exit interviews with the players — to a man, everybody in that locker room wanted him back.

“We were a much better team with Evander on the team.”

He continued to provide an offensive punch in the playoffs with a team-high 13 goals in 15 games as the Oilers reached the Western Conference final from the first time since 2006.

“A big part of my decision to stay in Edmonton was because of the opportunity given to me only seven months ago, but also the chance to be a part of a championship team,” Kane, who maintained negotiations with the Oilers even after the team gave him permission to other clubs, wrote on his verified Twitter account.

“Throughout the last 12 months, there have been lots of roadblocks, tons of adversity and many tough days,” he added. “I’m grateful for the tremendous amount of support from family, friends, teammates and others who have helped me stay strong through these difficult times.”

Kane has 545 points (286 goals, 259 assists) over 812 games with Atlanta/Winnipeg, Buffalo, San Jose and Edmonton.

Kulak returns to Edmonton on a four-year contract with an average annual value of $2.75 million.

The 28-year-old was acquired by the Oilers from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline in March and had two goals and six assists in 18 regular-season games with Edmonton.

The Edmonton-born rearguard added five assists and had a team-leading plus-7 defensive rating in 16 playoff games.

Kulak was selected by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and has 64 points (15 goals, 49 assists) in 334 career NHL games with Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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