Meet Cam Talbot

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The big news earlier today was Connor McDavid signing his entry level deal. It was a very easy negotiation. He gets the max deal, like every other #1 pick. As good as McDavid is going to be, he won’t be the lead catalyst in their quest for better team defence. He, like all forwards, will play a part, but the Oilers defensive deficiencies need to be improved by the defencemen and, most importantly, the goalies.

Meet Cam Talbot. He’ll arrive in Edmonton in late August and prepare for a battle with Ben Scrivens to win the starting job. He is excited about the opportunity.

I spoke with Talbot earlier this week. He is ready for the challenge of becoming a starter and is confident he can help the Oilers become competitive again.

Gregor: At what point in your career
did you think about being an NHL goalie?

Talbot: Ah jeeze, honestly, probably
not until maybe my last couple of weeks of college at Alabama. I didn’t even have
an agent or an advisor so probably in my last three weeks. I got a call from
maybe four or five guys within a stretch of a couple of days and I had to pick
one pretty quickly and then as soon as my season ended in my junior year I
ended up signing the next day with the Rangers. So I was… it was a hard road
but it was definitely rewarding.

Gregor: Well it definitely has been rewarding
for you. Have you gone back to school to finish your degree yet?

Talbot: I haven’t yet, I’ve got three
classes left. I’ve done one since I’ve left school, but I’ve pretty much just
been focusing on training and trying to get better and focusing on my career
right now.

Gregor: I noticed in one of your tweets, you thanked [Benoit] Allaire your goalie coach. What were the key
things he taught you?

Talbot: I think more or less to play within
yourself; don’t try to do too much, let the puck come to you. He’s a big fan of
not over challenging, not over playing the shooter and I think that really
helped to calm down my game. In college and stuff like that I played a little
bit more aggressively and I was susceptible to rebounds and stuff like that. He
just kind of made me play a little bit more within myself and let the game come
to me.

Gregor: When a goaltender coach tells you what to do, I
can see in theory you want to do it, but how hard is it to convince
yourself to not be aggressive as a goaltender?

Talbot: It was extremely hard. I had to
kind of find a happy medium between where I had played and where he wanted me
to play. It took a good year, year and a half in the American League to find
that balance and I think that that is where you saw my numbers start to improve
a little bit more. Like you said, every year I just became more and more
comfortable with the style of play that he wanted us to play and it became
easier and more comfortable without even thinking about it, it just became
second nature.

Gregor: Were you caught off guard at all or
were you expecting a trade?

Talbot: I was pretty much expecting a
trade. I was told in my exit meeting with New York that there was a good chance
that they would try to keep me as best they could, but I think that once a few
teams started calling that there would be a good chance I would be traded. I
pretty much expected it for a good week, week and a half leading up to it and
then Saturday morning when it finally happened I was extremely excited.

Learning from Lundqvist

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Gregor: You also had the opportunity to
spend some time as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup for the last few seasons. What did
you learn from him, what did he teach you?

Talbot: Pretty much just preparation, just
a winning mentality. I mean you look at him and everything that he’s done, his
game prep, his practice prep, kind of carries over. You can tell, even in
practice that he hates getting scored on in practice just as much as in games
and I think that you can see that competitiveness come out in games and you
kind of see the kind of mentality it takes to really be one of the best. So I
think that’s the biggest thing to take from him is just the game prep and the
hard work mentality.

Gregor: Are you a guy now who hates getting
scored on in practice?

Talbot: I was always that guy, but maybe a
little bit more so now [laughs].

Gregor: What about your fashion sense?
Lundqvist is a sharp dressed guy, did he help you in that department?

Talbot: (laughs) Not so much no, I’m still
just a guy from a small town. I’m not so much into fashion just yet but I guess
I had to try to keep up a little bit when I was in New York.

Gregor: Many will suggest your numbers in
New York, especially behind that defence, were inflated and  coming to Edmonton it will be hard to match
them. You talked earlier about just staying within yourself. I know you don’t
want to change as a goalie, but are you expecting to see more high quality
shots in Edmonton, and will that alter your game?

Talbot: Um, honestly, I don’t know about
that. I mean the way that management and coaching staff has changed I think
that we’re going to have a different system. I know that they are trying to
bring in some more veteran guys I think, and with the trades that they’ve
already made and the core group of guys that we have there I think that we’re
going to be a very competitive group this season and definitely moving forward.
It’s going to be a great opportunity for myself and for this group.

Gregor: You are 27 years young, but in
Edmonton you will be one of the older guys on this team. Some goaltenders can
be leaders, some are vocal, and some are not. How would you describe your
persona in the room?

Talbot: In the room I’m quieter. On the ice
I speak up quite a bit, but I’m not one of those guys that’s really going to
take charge in the room. I think I’m a hard worker off of the ice and I’m more
of a lead by example, but I’m not as vocal as most guys would be in the room.

Gregor: Regardless of who it is, you will
have a new goalie coach in Edmonton. How will that change things for you?

Talbot: I think it might change a little
bit, I mean every goaltending coach has their own style but I think that at
this point most goalie coaches won’t try to change you, they’ll just try to
make tweaks here and there. I think once you get to this point there’s not a
whole lot let to learn, it’s just more or less watching video of different
situations in games where you can maybe do something a little bit different
that can cut down the angle, or cut down a scoring chance. I think for the most
part it should be relatively easy to move from goalie coach to goalie coach so
I’m looking forward to working with whoever they’ve got there when the time
comes.

BECOMING A STARTER…

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Gregor: Backup goalie has to be one of the
toughest jobs because you can sit for a month, especially when you have
Lundqvist, and you won’t play. This year due to his injury you became the starter for two months. What did you learn about yourself during those two
months that maybe you didn’t know about what it took to be a starting
goaltender in the NHL?

Talbot: I think just preparation. I mean when
you are playing every other game as opposed to every three weeks I think that
your game prep has to be a little bit better, it takes you a little bit more
time to find out your regiment on and off of the ice to stay in that peak
performance. It is a challenge mentally to be able to go on the ice every day,
work out after every game when you know that you’re not going

to play for an extended period. They are different challenges to each position.

But I think
that you have to find the happy median, and I think I learned that during
those twenty three games, with the workload that I had, I would be able to at
some point handle an NHL starters workload so I think that I was able to prove that
to myself as well.

Gregor: I noticed in the first four
games as a starter, and numbers are only one thing I didn’t watch all of the games, but
your save percentage was low and goals against was high. Then it looked like you got
more comfortable. Was that the case? Did you have some nerves or was it just
some bad games by the overall team and then things settled down?

Talbot: No, I think what you said was
right. I think it just took me a couple of games to settle in. I was putting a
little too much pressure on myself knowing the situation with Hank and knowing
who I was filling in for. Then there was one point where Benny (Allaire) took
me aside and said ‘don’t try to do anything that you wouldn’t usually do. Just keep
playing your game, play within yourself.’ He kept telling me and that settled
me down. Then once I had one good game after that it kind of snowballed from
there and I was able to settle myself.

Gregor: How much did that do for your
confidence and after starting for those two months did you think about being
traded because you could go elsewhere and become a starter’?

Talbot: Yeah, I think just proving it to
myself that I would be able to handle that kind of workload knowing that I had
done it in the past in the American League was important. It gave me a lot of
confidence moving forward whether New York moved me or not. I mean, I signed a
one year contract to continue to work there and I loved the situation there. But
once I found, or once I got the opportunity, and proved to myself and maybe the
team that I was ready to make that transition I did think about it a bit.  I thank New York for giving me that
opportunity and Edmonton for obviously wanting to hopefully give me that
opportunity as well.

Gregor: Were you following the draft? And
what are your thoughts on having Connor McDavid as a teammate?

Talbot: It’s hard not to follow the draft
and follow all of the hype around Connor, but I’m excited to get to Edmonton
and to work with them. Facing a guy like that in practice can only make you better,
make your teammates better, so like I said before with the core group of guys
that they have already and the guys that they brought in, it’s going to be an
exciting time in Edmonton coming up.

Gregor: This training camp will be the best
opportunity you’ve had to not only win the job, but hold the starting job right
at the start of the season. What are the areas, what small tweaks will you work
on in your game this summer?

Talbot: One of the biggest is rebound
control. Obviously you can always work on rebound control, you never want to
give the other team secondary opportunities. Also, on lateral movement and
stuff like that, a little bit more power in the legs and that’s done in the gym
and on the ice. There are a few areas I can probably work a little bit more on
that can probably improve my game a lot.

Gregor: How do you improve rebound control
in the summer?

Talbot: I think that just in certain
situations I work with my goalie coach in the summer here in Hamilton, on
specific drills. We’ll tell the guys to shoot low blocker, low pad, have it
come off and just have a guy on the backdoor, and prevent him from banging it
in. It’s just a lot of movement in tight and in close and just really trying to
watch the puck in and try to get your timing down.

TALBOT TIDBITS…

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Gregor: Are you a guy who puts a lot of
thought into his goaltender mask? Will you be coming out with a cool mask this
year in Edmonton?

Talbot: Honestly I’m not the most creative
guy. I think that Dave Gunnarsson is the guy who changed my mask. He’s the
mastermind behind the whole Ghostbusters theme so we’ve already kind of talked
about maybe sticking with that. I’m not sure what he’s going to come up with,
but I think that it’s going to be another pretty cool design.

Gregor: Where did the Ghostbusters idea
come from?

Talbot: It was one of my favourite movies
growing up and like I say it was Dave’s idea when I got to New York. He said
that it really ties it into New York City and stuff like that so it made sense.
He was really excited to do it because it was one of his favourite movies as
well, and he was always excited to do a design like that. I told him that I
wasn’t too creative so just go with whatever it was he wanted to do. It turned
out great.

Gregor: Are you a superstitious goaltender?

Talbot: No, not really. I know a lot of
goalies have their quirks and stuff like that. I don’t see myself as one of
them. I have maybe one or two little rituals that I will do before games, but
nothing crazy.

Gregor: So you will talk on game day?

Talbot: Yes, I will talk on game day.
That’s one of the things that most guys know about me. They never know if I’m
playing or not playing because I kind of act the same either way.

Gregor: That is good to know. I was
looking up your statistics, and noticed your point production in the
NHL hasn’t matched what you were doing in College and in Junior; you had a lot more apples.
Are you going to work on your puck handling skills now in Edmonton?

Talbot: [Laughs] I was working on it in New
York, I just couldn’t seem to find a way to get any points, but I’ll definitely
be trying to work the puck up the ice to the guys and hopefully they can bury
a couple for me.

Gregor: Thanks for your time, and welcome to Edmonton.

Talbot: Thank you. I look forward to it.

PARTING SHOTS…

Talbot has paid his dues. He wasn’t drafted, spent three years in the AHL and two as a back up in New York. When the opportunity to be a starter presented itself, due to Lundqvist’s injury, Talbot flourished. He went 16-4-3 with a .931sv% and a 2.04 GAA.

His numbers look great, but we won’t know if he can handle being a 50+ game starter until he shows it, however, like most players he just wants a chance to prove he can.

I look forward to seeing how he plays, because his numbers suggest he is ready to be a starting goalie in the NHL.


Recently by Jason Gregor:     


    • pkam

      Look at Scrivens number, it was continue to get better until he arrived Edmonton. And so was Dubnyk until Eakins became our HC.

      Talbot should be grateful that his career with the Oilers does not involve Eakins.

    • Ever the Optimist

      Agreed

      Prior to the draft there was alot of goalie stats review and one thing popped out to me regarding Talbot. Most goalies have a dip in performance at a certain point then rebound to have a career. Scrivens just had his so i am looking forward to seeing better performance from him. Talbot is almost due for his dip, so don’t be surprised to see the two split the games this year before Talbot stabilizes for his career.

    • CDNinATL

      I can answer that. My son plays travel hockey outside of Atlanta and we’ve been to Huntsville. That’s where Talbot went to school. It’s the only NCAA division 1 school for hockey in the south. Huntsville also has a NASA center there so lots of engineers types. Lots of money there.

      It’s not the type of place where you’d expect to find hockey but they actually have a pretty good program there.

      • tileguy

        Sounds like Cam and Ben will have long discussions about angles and trajectories.

        A big thank you for clearing that up about the hockey hotbed of the south.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Chia stared Slats down and got this guy for minimal assets. The guy’s a savage, let’s start a petition to rename the new arena “Chiarelli Place”.

  • R U Kidding Me!

    Oil has had goalies that could do the job over the last few years…combination of a poor D-fence and defensive play makes the goalie look bad and lose confidence in his team and most of all in themselves and then it’s just a snowball effect going down hill. Dubnyk had all the tools to be the guy but when things go bad in this city, its really bad. I know its no excuse to let pucks in at the blue line but when your head is not where it should be, then bad things happen! especially our D the last few years. Someone said on here that we could have Price in goal and wouldn’t have made any real difference! and I totally agree…Superman couldn’t have stopped all those quality chances in front! Well maybe he could but you get my point! lol! Go Oil

  • tileguy

    Nice to meet you Cam. Welcome to Edmonton.

    Talbot & Scrivens are the new Fuhr & Moog.

    Now back to my midsummer night’s dream about 5 Ws to start the season.

  • Kevwan

    Is it just me or does Talbot not seem loopy enough for a goalie? A little to normal if you ask me.

    This is based on my extensive knowledge of beer league goalies, of course.

  • TheBirdOfAnger

    Happy Talbot is excited to come here. I still think Scrivens will be very good as a back up and that’ll be great so as long as it pushes Cam harder.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I didn’t like the Griff trade at first because of what the Flames got Dougie for. But after some reasoning, I’ve decided it’s a huge gamble that can either pay big dividends or blow up in his face. I’d say that qualifies as a Bold Move™.

  • bazmagoo

    Reinhart will be a good shutdown pairing guy, I forsee him working well with Fayne. Looking into my crystal ball I see Nikitin and Schultz getting shipped at next season’s deadline for picks, with Nurse and Reinhart coming up from the AHL. End of next season our pairings will be Klefbom – Sekera, Reinhart – Fayne, Nurse – Gryba/Ference. It will be interesting to say the least! Davidson, Oesterle, Leleggia, Lagesson, Musil, Bekter, Gernat and Simpson are still in the system as well, I’d say we are actually in good shape finally.

    Not convinced Talbot is the answer to our goaltending problem, but it’s low risk move and will hopefully push Scrivens to get back to where he was at during the last half of the 2013-14 season.

  • Talbot is a guy who has payed his dues and he does deserve a shot at being the Oilers #1. I hope he excels and leaves no doubt, of his place in the pecking order.

    I really enjoy reading Gregor’s player interview articles. They’re well written with good questions being asked. It’s interesting to hear candid answers from the players without them spouting off a bunch of cliches, like most postgame camera interviews.

    Keep ’em coming Jason. You’ve got a fan in me.

  • Lofty

    Good read, I would like to know more about how a guy goes from Hamilton/Toronto to Alabama and stays with the game. Must take some real conviction to stick with the game playing it in Alabama.

  • “I think just proving it to myself that I would be able to handle that kind of workload knowing that I had done it in the past in the American League was important. It gave me a lot of confidence moving forward…” – Cam Talbot

    This is why I would be overjoyed if Nurse, Draisaitl, and Reinhart all start the season in Bakersfield.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Gregor, you mentioned Talbot’s first 4 games as a starter being less than stellar. Then posted the final tally of his numbers in the role as 16-4-3 with a .931sv% and a 2.04 GAA. Those are good. But I’m just curious…

    …those last 27 games, if we disclude those first four games, what might his cumulative numbers be for the last 27, when he settled in and stopped trying to do too much? You know, sort of like a mulligan for the new trainee.

    I can probably find this with a game by game breakdown, but it sounds like you already might have it. It is just a matter of curiosity, but it may also more truly reflect what level he took and kept his game at for almost exactly 1/3 of a season (then multiply by 3). Does his GAA go under 2.00? His save pct rise even more? Win-Loss record?

    As for Talbot’s personality, he sounds like a regular guy, and it sounds like that regular guy is really excited to be getting THIS opportunity on THIS team. (The emphasis is for the trolls.) I like that, too, and October keeps on looking more and more exciting. I hope this momentum never stops…

    • Jason Gregor

      I don’t have it, but I also don’t think it would be wise to pick out the best games and assume that would be the norm. He will have an off night at some point, every goalie does.

      Those numbers are excellent, and now we see if he can do it over a full season.

  • paul wodehouse

    …best EVER interview Gregor…lotsa insight great background info and you may not know but Talbots’ first two words were almost identical to what Grant Fuhr used to say at the start of almost every sentence while being interviewed…it’s a freakin’ omen man!!!

  • Super Sweet

    “I mean the way that management and coaching staff has changed I think that we’re going to have a different system. I know that they are trying to bring in some more veteran guys I think, and with the trades that they’ve already made and the core group of guys that we have there I think that we’re going to be a very competitive group this season and definitely moving forward. It’s going to be a great opportunity for myself and for this group.”

    I loved how he took a shot against Eakins and past management. That was just savage of him! I love this Conor McDavid effect so much, he’s truly McJesus working wonderful miracles to this franchise attracting free agent players, management, coaches, and getting players excited to be traded to Edmonton!

  • Super Sweet

    Talbot is a gamble in the same way that Scrivens was. Both were back-up goalies playing for elite defensive teams. Scrivens’ stats took a nosedive last year. Hopefully Talbot is different.