After a lot of speculation, the Edmonton Oilers have found their goaltender. On Saturday, Peter Chiarelli completed a deal to acquire Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 27, 2015
If that looks like a surprisingly reasonable offer, it really shouldn’t. For weeks it has been obvious that the market for goalies just wasn’t there. Ottawa surrendering a first-round pick for Robin Lehner on Friday didn’t change the reality of the market, and all of the frenzied speculation that the Rangers were looking at a first-round pick or multiple second-round selections didn’t change it either.
Peter Chiarelli never lost sight of that simple fact, and he deserves credit for not allowing himself to be distracted.
In the end, he got the best of the goalies on the trade market for a modest price. The No. 57 is a fringe second-round pick, the No. 79 is in the middle of the third-round and is one of two selections owned by the team and the No. 184 is a seventh-round pick. The difference in value between the No. 184 and the No. 209 is pretty negligible; at that stage of the draft even a 25-selection gap is almost entirely irrelevant.
Chiarelli made it clear time and again in his public comments that he was very willing to go to free agency if he didn’t get a deal that he liked. With the state of the market, it was inevitable that he got a deal that he liked.
Oilers fans should like this deal, too. Cam Talbot is quite the goalie. Here are his last two seasons:
- 2013-14: 21GP, 12-6-1, 0.941 save percentage
- 2014-15: 36GP, 21-9-4, 0.926 save percentage
Talbot had to handle the pressure of the starting job for a month last season when Henrik Lundqvist was hurt, and he manged splendidly. He turns 28 in a couple of weeks, meaning there’s still plenty of tread on the tires. His cap hit for this coming season is an extremely modest $1.45 million. All of that is worth liking from an Edmonton perspective.
It’s not all unicorns and lollipops, though. Talbot will be an unrestricted free agent next summer; if he pans out Edmonton will be on the hook for some real money. There’s also a risk of him not panning out, as he has played just 57 career games in the majors. But the former case isn’t really worth worrying about: If Talbot pans out and the Oilers can’t sign him, it’s going to be very easy to recoup those traded picks and more at the deadline next year. Talbot would have more value if he was under contract for a longer term, but the short-term isn’t a deal breaker because he’ll still have value to a contending team looking for help between the pipes if all goes well.
If all does not go well it’s a different matter. Chiarelli is taking a calculated risk here. Talbot is a good bet, his numbers are excellent, and the acquisition cost was reasonable. That doesn’t guarantee success, but teams have to take risks to improve themselves and this one is entirely justifiable.
All in all, the Oilers have done fine work at this position.
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