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Woodcroft: There's 'open competition' for Oilers' Game 1 starting job

Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft won't name his starting goaltender for Edmonton's regular-season opener on Oct. 11, saying that it's still an "open competition" between Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell.

"I don't think that I have all the information to make that decision just yet," he told the media Tuesday. "I'm not gonna lay out my process in making that decision. We're realists and we understand that we need both goalies - it's a two-goalie league now. We have 1A and 1B, and they're going to sort out who's who."

Skinner and Campbell have both appeared in two games so far this preseason, but the latter has boasted better numbers, albeit in a small sample size:

Stuart Skinner 120 .880 6 5.06 -1.24
Jack Campbell 122 .971 2 6.78 4.47

All figures courtesy of Natural Stat Trick at all strengths.

"They both are gonna get another (preseason) game here to sort that out and make my decision easy," Woodcroft said.

Skinner wrestled the starting job away from a disastrous Campbell in 2022-23 and was named a Calder Trophy finalist after registering a .914 save percentage to go along with a 29-14-5 record.

The 24-year-old started all 12 playoff games for Edmonton in the spring but struggled with an under-.900 save percentage, while Campbell was stellar in four relief appearances, logging a .961 clip and 1.01 goals against average.

Campbell said in September that he aims to build on his promising playoff performance and is looking forward to getting an opportunity to "write a new script" in 2023-24. He is entering the second season of a five-year, $25-million contract.

Woodcroft has been impressed by what he's seen from the veteran in the preseason and believes that it will be "very healthy" for Skinner to be pushed by an improved Campbell.

"I think (Campbell) went into the summer with a clear frame of mind on what he wanted to get better at," he said. "He appears to me to be very relaxed. He's letting the game come to him, he's made numerous great saves. He's in a good headspace, he's in a good physical space. ... What a guy to be partnered up with."

The Oilers ranked 15th in on-ice save percentage (90.1) at all strengths last season.

Edmonton has two preseason games remaining on its schedule: Oct. 4 against the Calgary Flames and Oct. 6 versus the Seattle Kraken.

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