Gretzky’s prediction for the Oilers’ goaltenders is taking shape

Jake Campbell was the big offseason signing for the Edmonton Oilers, but when he didn’t start strong and continued to weaken, many in Oil Country questioned whether his acquisition was a mistake. There were also question marks surrounding the youth Stuart Skinner. He put up great stats during his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) and played well in his 13 NHL appearances last season, but can he take the next step to becoming an NHL regular?

Before the start of the season, former Edmonton Oilers legend Dr Wayne Gretzky speech on “Bob McCown” podcast, and the conversation shifted to the Oilers’ goaltending tandem of Campbell and Skinner, and “The Great One” made a few predictions for both goaltenders. He started Campbell going strong for the Oilers; However, indicated that he will need an adjustment period but can handle the pressure given his experience playing in a pressure cooker environment like Toronto. Second, he had high praise for Skinner, saying, “You look at how well this kid has played this year.”


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So far, Gretzky’s predictions about the Oilers’ netminder have come true. Campbell needed an adjustment period, battled through the pressure and finally returned to form. Moreover, Skinner has not only proven that he can handle the load of a starting goaltender, but his outstanding play thus far in his rookie season has earned him the honor of being named to the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. Plus, Gretzky believed Edmonton’s goaltending tandem could be a formidable 1-2 punch, and that prediction is finally starting to take shape just in time as the Oilers prepare to make a push for the playoffs.

Gretzky felt Campbell could work through the pressure

Gretzky played 10 seasons in Edmonton and worked in their front office for five, stepping down from his role as a partner and vice chairman in 2021, yet still oversees the team he won four Cups with in the 1980s. “On the Bob McCown Show,” In October, he said he liked Edmonton’s chances of winning the Cup and added that they made a good calculated move by signing Campbell, “I really think Campbell was one of the best signings of the summer. I think he’s a really strong guy for the Edmonton Oilers.” Going to be a goal scorer.” He further added, “He has been coming [Toronto] It’s a lot of pressure – he handled it well.”

Jack Campbell Edmonton Oilers
Jake Campbell, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/ICON Sportswear via Getty Images)

That said, right out of the gate, Campbell struggled in his first six games in an Oilers uniform, posting an .888% save percentage (SV%) and 3.89 goals-against average (GAA). Over his next ten games through November, his numbers dropped further, recording an .858 SV% and 4.29 GAA. His play and confidence were quickly waning and he eventually lost the starting job to netminder Skinner. Before this there was a time in the season where Campbell’s mental fortitude was questionable — He was often very critical of himself, such as on November 6 following a 6–2 loss against the Dallas Stars, calling his play “pathetic”.

Related: The Oilers are finally getting the version of Jake Campbell they paid for

Still, give credit where it’s due, Campbell persevered through the pressure and media scrutiny and even made a major midseason change. of Sportsnet Mark Spector reported in late December That he changed his goalie equipment, which seems to be working in his favor at the moment. He has a 6-1-0 record in his last seven starts and has posted a 2.28 GAA and .915 SV% in that span and as Hockey writers Jim Parsons As it stands, the Oilers are finally getting the version of Campbell they paid for.

Gretzky’s Oilers had high hopes for Skinner

Additionally, Gretzky had high hopes for Skinner, a recently named All-Star. He predicted that the goaltender’s confidence would increase as he knew he would be in the NHL this season, saying:

I think Skinner is going to be a great backup to Campbell. You know, Skinner was one of the best goaltenders in the American League and one of the best players in the American League for a couple of years, but when you’re up and down and you come in for two weeks and you’re down for a game and you’re back, I don’t care who you are. , you have lost your confidence. You can see how well this kid plays this year because he knows he’s going to be there all year. I think they’re going to make a pretty 1-2 punch.

Wayne Gretzky

It will be interesting to know where the Oilers would be in the standings if Skinner (who had a .914 SV% and 2.96 GAA prior to the Jan. 21 game against the Vancouver Canucks) couldn’t get Campbell to gain traction. As Gretzky had predicted, Skinner’s confidence not only grew, he became First Oilers rookie goaltender Named to the All-Star Game since Grant Fuhrer did in 1982. On top of that, Skinner recently signed a new three-year, $7.8 million contract in December and welcomed his son Beau Skinner into the world in January. 14 — which equates to a hat-trick in life.

Stuart Skinner Edmonton Oilers
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)

So far, Gretzky’s goaltending predictions have come true, now the question is which goaltender gets the most going forward? Will they share the responsibility, or with Campbell’s great play of late, is it now his undoing? Hockey analyst Rob Brown spoke on the matter “Inside the Game”Said, “How would it be for a team – your goalkeeper, Jack Campbell, has only won five games and has been great in those five games, and your other goalkeeper [Skinner] An all-star. That’s a pretty good problem for Woodcroft and the coaching staff to have.”

Overall, Gretzky summed up what Edmonton would be a great 1-2 punch with Campbell and Skinner in the pipeline — it took three months into the season to take shape, but it’s finally paying off. He also predicted the Oilers would finish first or second in the Pacific Division. It seemed unlikely a month ago, but they are now just a few points out and to do so, they will need solid play in net by both netminders to go along with their high-powered offense.

Between Campbell and Skinner, who should get the majority of starts going forward? Have your say in the comments below!

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