We know the Edmonton Oilers need an upgrade in goal and we’ve been led to believe there might be a masked man to be had in Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers or Eddie Lack of the Vancouver Canucks capable of filling that need.
While neither Talbot, who was impressive this season filling in for an injured Henrik Lundqvist, nor Lack, playing back-up to fading Ryan Miller with the Canucks, have long enough track records to be considered proven starters, many consider them to be upgrades on incumbent Ben Scrivens.
Whether either is capable of getting the job done behind an Edmonton defensive corps that isn’t nearly good enough is up to debate, but they’re the names most often mentioned in a “could-be” group that also includes Robin Lehner of Ottawa and Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks.
Given that neither one of them would command big returns in a trade or have disagreeable salaries, and that Oiler GM Peter Chiarelli has draft picks to work with – the 16th pick in the first round and a second-rounder at 33rd – it’s no surprise that Chiarelli is kicking the tires on both of them.
Is there a deal worth making for Lack or Talbot?
THE VANCOUVER ANGLE
Vancouver GM Jim Benning has three goaltenders for two jobs. He’s keeping Miller, and will decide between Lack and Markstrom as to who gets the back-up job and who gets moved. Canuck beat writer Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province recently gave his take on Talbot and on what the ask for Lack and Markstrom will be.
“The Canucks want to recoup second- and third-round picks for the draft next weekend in Florida. Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers and Vancouver’s Eddie Lack top the puck-stopper wish list for teams with real needs — especially Edmonton, Buffalo, San Jose and Dallas.
“Talbot and Lack are 27, have a year remaining on palatable contracts and filled in admirably this season for the injured Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Miller, respectively. So, you can understand the level of interest and the consensus that it would be easier for the Canucks to land at least a second-round pick for the more proven Lack. The 25-year-old Markstrom? Maybe a third-rounder. Maybe even a second with his progression.”
If Kuzma is right, Lack falls into Edmonton’s wheelhouse in terms of the ask. Will Benning ask for Edmonton’s selection at 16th for Lack? Sure. Might he take the 33rd pick? Maybe. As for Markstrom, he could be worth a look if Benning opts to keep Lack. I’m not as sold on him as I am on Lack, not that either one is a lock to be the answer.
BIG APPLE ANGLE
As for the Rangers, Talbot, stuck behind Lundqvist, has long been the subject of speculation he’ll be traded, possibly in a package deal, despite a reasonable $1.45 million salary. GM Glen Sather has to cut payroll. According to several sources, including TSN’s Darren Dreger, Edmonton, Dallas and Buffalo have inquired about Talbot.
Is the 16th pick too much for Talbot straight up? If Chiarelli thinks so, there might be room to expand the deal to include, speculation goes, a bona fide blueliner like Kevin Klein. Would Chiarelli move the 16th pick for Talbot and Klein? A snippet from Sean Harnett of CBS:
“It would be hard to imagine the Oilers trading away the pick straight up for Talbot. This year’s draft features a very deep first round, so a package of Talbot and top-four quality defenseman Kevin Klein could be tempting to Edmonton, as it would fill two needs.
“For the Rangers, dealing away Talbot and Klein would free up $4.35 million in cap space. Klein will be paid an average annual salary of $2.9 million through the 2017-18 season.”
For me, Lack and Talbot look like Chiarelli’s best bets if we’re talking about getting an available goaltender for the 16th or 33rd picks. Lack’s career stats are here. Talbot’s career numbers are here. Then again, what I think matters little – I thought Jeff Deslauriers would be an NHL goaltender.
EDDIE OR CAM?
Jason Gregor and I interviewed Kevin Woodley, a former goaltender who has made a living analyzing and writing about the men in the crease for over a decade for Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, The Hockey News and InGoalMag.com on Thursday and we asked him about Lack and Talbot.
Q: If you had to choose between Talbot and Lack, who would be the best goaltender for the Oilers, considering return and everything else?
“I would go with Eddie Lack, and again, it’s probably not fair to Cam Talbot,” said Woodley, who has covered Lack and the Canucks more extensively than Talbot and the Rangers for the outlets he writes for. “He (Talbot) made steps this year.
“Do not underestimate the steps he took learning what it takes to be a No. 1. That is a stride that a lot of goalies talk about and he struggled with it. When Henrik Lundqvist first went down, go back and watch his first four or five games. He was not good at all. You lose the ability to manage your game in practice that you have as a back-up goaltender.
“When something goes wrong, you don’t get to go four half-an-hour on the ice with Benoit Allaire before your next start to fix it because you’re just managing your fatigue level. He went through that learning curve, struggled with it early after Lundqvist went down but got better over time. That was a big step for him. It’s another step to be a 65-game goaltender.
“I think Lack’s closer to that step than Cam Talbot is. You add that to what I’ve been able to see of Eddie as a character, the personality and the way he would be able to handle a Canadian marketplace . . . again, not knowing that Talbot can’t, but not knowing him well enough to say honestly right now, I would pick Eddie Lack.”
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.