The Risk In Pursuing Cam Talbot

The Oilers are in desperate need of a new (preferably good) goaltender, and they have their eyes set on Cam Talbot. This is not breaking news. We’ve known they like Talbot for a long time and a lot of digital ink has been spilled discussing how he might just be the right fit. But it’s not all bubblegum and rainbows with Talbot. There are risks.

First and foremost let’s get this out of the way: I like like Cam Talbot as a trade option because I have been convinced that he has the requisite skills for the job. However, just because you like something doesn’t mean you should pay through the nose to get it. In any negotiation you have to be willing to walk away at some point, and that point will vary depending on your needs and your situation.

The verbal on the Talbot trade negotiations has been that the number of teams interested has ballooned considerably and it includes other teams looking for a 1G as well as others looking for a capable backup. That’s great for New York, not particularly great for anyone else.

That said, what we need to remember is that Cam Talbot isn’t the only goaltender available. In fact, he is far from it. He might be the main target, but there are others and that can’t be forgotten when his price starts to rise.

For those who want to read a really great post about the goaltenders on the market there is a fantastic one by Woodguy right here.

To shorten the arguments for acquiring Talbot down a bit, here are the main attractions.

  • He’s just 27 and thus should be in the prime of his career.
  • He ranked 11/48 in Adjusted Save Percentage in 2014-2015
  • He ranked 5/58 in Adjusted Save Percentage in 2013-2014
  • His Cap Hit is just 1.45M in 2015-2016

These are all big pluses!

Cam Talbot has a lot going for him. He’s a cheap goalie who stands 6’3″ and who has excelled at the NHL level as a backup who was forced to start a good number of games. That is, I imagine, why Darren Dreger tweeted this:

Talbot trade watch continues. Expect he gets traded this week. Buf, Edmtn, SJ and Dallas in the mix. Great contract requires high return.

— Darren Dreger(@DarrenDreger) June 22, 2015 

Now here’s where I quibble with Darren Dreger a little. Cam Talbot does not have a great contract. 

Cam Talbot has a great cap hit but his contract is actually going to place whichever team acquires him in a bind. You see, the problem is that Cam Talbot has a one year deal at 1.45M and those one year deals can be difficult. There’s no team that should be more familiar with the problems inherent in the one year deal for a pending UFA than the Edmonton Oilers.

That is exactly the type of situation the Oil found themselves in when they gave Jeff Petry a one year deal last summer. The new CBA rules stipulate that a one year deal cannot be renegotiated until January. Therefore, any team that picks up Talbot must wait until 2016 before they could actually sign him to a new deal. [Note: I am backing off the original statement that the Oilers cannot negotiate at all with Talbot before January but what they cannot do is formally offer him anything that he is able to sign prior to that date as per Article 50.5 of the CBA.]

No matter what either party wants, the power to negotiate a longer deal has been taken away from the Oilers in this scenario, and since Talbot is already 27 that means he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015-2016 season. If he has a good season, that puts all of the power squarely in the Talbot camp.

But if he has a good season wouldn’t he want to stay in Edmonton? I would have thought the same thing, at least a little, but let’s look at Devan Dubnyk who was also in this exact situation this past year. He played so well that he garnered Vezina consideration and brought the Wild back to life, but he is just days away from testing unrestricted free agency. All of the power is in the Dubnyk camp and he doesn’t seem willing to take a discount to stay in Minnesota. And he shouldn’t!

If Talbot plays the way the Oilers HOPE he plays (assuming they acquire him) then by January 2016 they might have to pay him North of 4.5M just to keep him. And if he thinks he can command that on the market but doesn’t want to live in Edmonton for the next four years then he doesn’t have to sign a thing.

IN SHORT

Cam Talbot has been identified as a target of trade by that Oilers and his performance in the NHL has identified him as a potential candidate for starting duties. However, his NHL resume is still just 57 games long and nobody who trades for him will be able to negotiate a deal with him until the next calendar year begins. He’s most definitely still worth a gamble, but the gamble should be allowing him to begin next season as the starter. The gamble should not be that he is worth paying an extreme price for. He is guaranteed to be nothing more than a long term rental.That fact cannot be lost in the excitement of the chase.

Cam Talbot does not have a great contract for a team looking to pick him up. Cam Talbot has a great contract for a man who is ready to prove his value as a starter to the entire NHL, much the way Devan Dubnyk did this past season. 

  • OilCanFan1

    I have no qualm with giving Talbot his money next year if he works out for the team. We absolutely need to keep looking for our solution in net and if he’s the best chance at it, then we should be valuing him higher.

    Remember we are looking for a long term solution and shouldn’t be shy about paying that goalie once we find him.

    Sather is just playing hardball, and rightly so, as to which of the GM’s that want Talbot the most will concede the fools ransom. I predict that unless he gets that fools offer he will wait until the last second and then circle back to the highest bidder. Hopefully that’s us.

    omg exciting week!

  • jonnyquixote

    The 1-year contract could be a bit of a blessing. The team cannot negotiate an extension in July, without knowing what sort of player he’s going to be. The player cannot expect an extension in July, so there’s no hard-feeling about the team playing hardball or “waiting to see.”

    But January rolls around, and the team has a much better idea of what the player is like as a starter. The player may have some leverage if he’s playing well, but he also has, by that point, maybe a 30 game track record. And in a league where starting jobs are always at a premium, it would be a pretty big risk for a 28 year old with a short track record, and an inconsistent position, to decide he’s going to start playing the field and move on to Team #3 in 2 years. He might squeeze the team for a bit more than they want to pay at that point, but if the player is playing well, and if the contract is reasonable, he’s going to want to put ink to paper.

    The alternative is a huge risk. An injury? A big February slump? A surge by Scrivens or Brossoit? This isn’t a player with a huge string of NHL paychecks behind his name, one who has already provided for his grandchildren. This is a guy in a make or break moment. Would you risk, say, $10 million over 3 years in order to make $14 million over 3 years if the downside was, maybe, another $1.5 million 1 year contract. That seems unlikely.

  • Just give scrivens the start. Find a good back up/replacement and we will be fine for year #1. Scrivens makes the save, pass to nuge, pass to me on the wing and we have a goal. All year long.

  • hagar

    Pick up both talbot and lack. With the worth of a potential star goalie, and the potential of the team, I would gamble on grabbing both, and seeing how things shape up…

    The same one year left on contract worry, can also be a god send if one of the two blows chunks.

    If the team gets their crap in line this year, and shows true epic potential, then either goalie will most likely be super happy to take a big pay check to stay with the oilers.

    If one of either lack or talbot end up being a top 8 goalie, the combined 3 million for one year, and a couple draft picks, will have been a genious move.

  • bradleypi

    With all this talk about Talbot and other goalie options does this mean Scrivens is out? What are they going to do with Scrivens? Will he be a back-up? Sounds like they may go after two goalies, then what happens? Just curious.

    • JackB

      “… does this mean Scrivens is out?” NO!

      He is on our roster, and you can only move a roster player by trading him, or by putting him on waivers and moving him to the AHL.
      And that would really screw up the Bakersfield roster.

      We want Brossoit to start (it is, after all, our DEVELOPMENT team) and Ty Rimmer has already signed an AHL contract. Plus BACHMAN (a UFA) REALLY DOES DESERVE TO BE RE-SIGNED. He did superlative job last year in the AHL playoffs (Brossoit started at first and BLEW!), he did a good job up here for the few games he played, he’s only 27 (like Srivens and Talbot) … but he’s 5’11” (and it seems all NHL teams are going for the goalies over 6’3″???) I kinda feel sorry for Bachman, and kinda hope someone picks him up, he blows the doors off in the AHL, and shows he is at least capable of an NHL career (even if only as a dependable back-up who will give you some real solid starts in relief)

      Plus we recently signed Laurikanen to an entry level deal. I can’t see them moving him to the AHL. They will probably let him continue to develop further on his European team (he played one or two years, I believe, in the WHL)

      SO … SCRIVENS IS HERE FOR ONE MORE YEAR, like it or leave it. Who knows … maybe in front of an improved defense (and getting back to being a back-up. not a starter) he’ll get back to the very good numbers he had before we traded for him?

      WE CAN ONLY AQUIRE ONE MORE GOALIE, NOT TWO!! So the posters who have suggested we get both Talbot and Lack really haven’t thought it thru (thank goodness they are not GM’s)

  • Zarny

    @BillHK

    WTF is it with this ridiculous notion of “fix the D first”?

    The only G the Oilers have signed had the 2nd worst SV % in the league for all goalies with 20+ GP.

    The NHL isn’t a kindergarten project where you do things one at a time.

    You fix both.

  • Sather is one of the most stern negotiators in the NHL and he sees all or hears all of these rumblings for his backup. As for building from the goalie out, ask the Hawks about their average goalie who played behind a great defence to win another Stanley Cup. Corey Crawford has never been lights out in his career and through the playoffs he had four guys name Oduya, Seabrook, Keith and the Hjalmarsson guy playing otherworldly in front of him for two straight months. They have already offered Sather 2 2nd rounders for Talbot and he said no, for me that’s the final offer. You can get a guy like Neuvirth or Niemi for the cost of a contract. Save the picks and prospects for the whale defence man or two.

    • bradleypi

      So your answer to not getting the guy you want is to just settle for someone that other teams don’t want….???? Who is this whale dman that you ard gonna land by Friday? I have a hard time believing teams are clamoring to get rid of elite dmen before Friday. Especially with the cap going up. Have you got inside info on any top pairing dmen being available right now?

      • JackB

        No I’m stating is why should the Oilers put up assets to get another backup goalie? We had Dubnyk for how many years and he was poorly handled here and wound up a Vezina candidate behind a strong defensive team in Minnesota. Cam Talbot is a backup for a strong defensive team in New York, any different from what we have in Scrivens and Fasth. Chiarellis a smart hockey mind he’s not going to give Sather the other first rounder for one year of Talbot. I’d rather have a stellar defence and a decent goalie then a stellar goalie with a decent defence.

        • bradleypi

          Not sure why you think talbot is a backup goalie? There’s a few gms of there that would disagree with you there. He proved last year he can handle the starting job. Don’t jump to conclusions about talbot because Ben scrivens was a dud. Scrivens couldn’t stop a beach ball last year. Talbot was a brick wall. Oilersnation needs to realize that any goalie they acquire doesn’t have to win the vezina this year. Just keep them in games until PC retools the defence.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The same Corey Crawford that has 3 Stanley Cup rings? 10 goals in 6 games against the leagues highest scoring team, man that’s harsh. Sather is just another blowhard. His Rangers have fallen well short and will quickly run out of runway. They’ve gassed the window they had to win.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I’m sure I can put up those numbers playing behind Chicagos team of impenetrable defence. That team is built to win, and Crawford has two cup rings, Niemi was their starter in 2010.

  • Oil Vice

    The Oilers are in need of a good Goalie but do not have to sell the farm to get one.There must be a good up and coming Goalie in the Organization now. Give them a chance.