SUNRISE, Fla. – Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli had options.
“There are a couple of goaltenders for trade. Three or four that are in free agency. There’s a lot of them out there,” said on Friday, hours after the Oilers selected Connor McDavid with the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
“We’ve got our sights on some guys. We’ll see what happens.”
The Oilers acquired Talbot for three picks in Saturday’s second day of the draft: Nos. 57, 79 and 184. They acquired No. 209 overall from the Rangers.
This isn’t a bad return for the Rangers, per se. Talbot had one more year on his deal at $1.45 million before hitting UFA status. He was an asset that many coveted, and this was the right time to deal him. Three picks for a player that was never getting Lundqvist’s job is, again, not bad.
The problem is that the Rangers’ original ask for Talbot was well-documented. They wanted a first for him, like the Senators received for Robin Lehner. They didn’t get it. They wanted two seconds and a player for him from the Oilers. And Chiarelli waited them out, as the destinations for Talbot dwindled.
So it’s a win on its surface for the Oilers; the question then becomes if Talbot’s really the answer in goal for Edmonton.
He’s 27 years old and his career numbers are pretty amazing: 57 games, 33-15-5 record with a .931 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA. But that’s playing in back of a very good blue line in New York, and in a very good system for the Rangers as well.
In five seasons, Talbot has improved dramatically. His AHL save percentage increased in all three of his years in the league, rising from 0.902 to 0.918. It jumped again when he moved to the NHL, where he’s been a solid backup and a capable fill-in as starter. Now he’s at the point where he’s ready to compete for the job on a team that doesn’t have this generation’s best goalie.
Again, you can’t beat the price. That’s a win for Chiarelli. The question is whether having a goalie that’s never been a starter in this league is the right move for this team. Would it have been better to dabble in an Antti Niemi, whose rights were traded to Dallas, than to hope that Cam Talbot can handle the workload?