talbot capture 3

In Canada, the goalie has special status. I have a few friends who play goal in men’s leagues, and they haven’t paid for one damn thing hockey related in forever. Now, the phone rings day and night, their significant others have a love-hate relationship with the game, but you’d have to dig deep to find anyone who wasn’t working hard to stay on their good side. Without a goalie, you’re screwed. Every October in recent memory, the Oilers have been screwed.


In his first two starts as an Oilers goalie, Cam Talbot posted .933 and .923 save percentages. After that, he fell victim to the annual October nightmare that is playing goal for the Oilers. Consider recent October records by Edmonton’s minders.

  • Devan Dubnyk October 2013: 9GP, 4.01 .878
  • Ben Scrivens October 2014: 9GP, 3.01 .896
  • Cam Talbot October 2015: 10GP, 2.88 .897

All three of these goalies had been successful in their previous seasons but their October’s look eerily similar. They have other things in common:

  • Observers often mention the goalies are trying to do too much
  • Media avails with goalies are heartfelt, difficult and frankly almost impossible to watch. These men are under great stress.
  • Poor Octobers are followed most often by ghastly Novembers:
  • Devan Dubnyk November 2014: 11GP, 2.69 .904
  • Ben Scrivens November 2014: 8GP, 3.84 .878
  • Cam Talbot November 2014: 2GP, 4.10 .857


You develop a past. The Edmonton Oilers have given up a tremendous amount in assets to acquire Scrivens and then Talbot, and frankly it’s an area that is bleeding badly for this organization. Consider the cost for just Scrivens and Talbot:

  • Scrivens was acquired for a third-round pick (Dominic Turgeon)
  • Talbot (and the pick that turned into Ziyat Paigin) were acquired for a second-round pick (Jonas Siegenthaler), a third (Sergey Zborovskiy) and a seventh (Adam Huska)

It’ll be years before any of these men impact the NHL, and for me trading second and third rounders is an ideal way to acquire NHL-calibre talent that is ready to go. However, a smart organization figures out a way to acquire bona fide talent, and I think it’s fair to argue that all three of these men are at least able to play in the league (whether they are capable of starting is up in the air for two of the three men).


Peter Chiarelli has four choices this morning:

  • Task Todd McLellan with starting Anders Nilsson while also getting Cam Talbot back on the beam. That’s a tough sell for fans, and could mean further losses that can be directly attributed to the goaltending.
  • Callup Laurent Brossoit. This seems almost cruel—Brossoit could be badly damaged by an experience similar to Talbot’s so far this year.
  • Trade for another unproven option with bona fide resume. This would be in the Scrivens-Talbot arena.
  • Go big game hunting and acquire and expensive veteran, paying more in assets and cap.

What should he do? At this point, with the season 18 games old and injuries piling up, I don’t think big game hunting is a good idea (and there’s not a big group of good goalies available). Brossot’s recall seems imminent based on his splendid performances, but it could be a quick look-see if things go bad.

I know this isn’t a popular idea, but running with Anders Nilsson as the starter and getting Talbot back into a good mindset is probably a good call. If the Oilers are going to make a trade, let it be for an experienced defenseman, the one Craig MacTavish thought he was getting on the day he traded for the rights to Nikita Nikitin.

As bad as these goalies have played in October, not one of them was given a mature, capable group of six NHL defensemen. That’s something we’d do well to remember in these coming days.

  • AJ88

    I as well get tired of some of the extreme comments on this site, obviously from people that do not understand a team sport.

    I do think Talbot and Nillson have the potential, I have seen Nillson more in person than Talbot and I seem to lean to his style of goaltending. As far as their play this year, they have let in some weak goals that I am sure they would admit to. However I think you have to go with them for another half a season and see if they turn things around. If they don’t, call up Brossoit if he is still playing well and give him 10 to 15 games at the end of the year.

    But to blame goaltending solely is ridiculous. The defence has to get better, the forwards have to get better especially the bottom six from an offensive standpoint and we need the injured to be at 100%, Simply, this is not a playoff year, especially looking at the Oct/Nov schedule and the loss of McD. Improvement in all areas in the next 60 games would be considered success.

  • TKB2677

    I have no doubt that the Oilers defense is part of the problem with the goaltending. If you put the same guys behind a better defense and they would look better.

    What I want to see and the problem I have with the goalies is every guy that comes in here for whatever reason stops doing their basic job. That basic job is “don’t be the reason the Oilers lose.” What I mean by that is every goalie that comes in here stops making the saves they should. They come in here and all of a sudden they start letting in garbage goals, they start making stupid plays by mishandling the puck or giving the puck away and it’s costing the Oilers. Just go out there, do your job and stop the pucks you are supposed too stop. If at the end of the game because the Oilers defense sucks, the team loses, so be it. That’s on management. I don’t think any Oilers coach pats the goalie on the shoulder and says “we need you to be spectacular tonight, otherwise we are screwed.” All they want is for you to worry about your job which is stopping pucks.

    We know the Oilers defense isn’t very good. The coaches know the Oilers defense needs help. Management isn’t stupid, they know the Oilers defense needs help. But how much? How do you evaluate a guy or as a player, play our game when you aren’t sure if your goalie will be there to even make the basic stops. Late in the game, you force the guy to the corner or behind the net, you take away the pass and any prime shot, he fires the puck at the goal and it goes in. As a young Dman, what probably happens? You second guess what you just did, you wonder if you should have been more aggressive, done something else. So another similar situation happens, instead of doing what you did last time which was correct, maybe you cheat a little and you give the puck way. The Oilers defense isn’t good, they need work but at some point, they need their goalies to play their game and eliminate goaltending as one of the factors. GO out there, make the saves you should make.

    • wiseguy

      That’s how they all start – just do their own job. After some time though they realize how bad the d is and start to do more, like trying to move the puck quicker, play pucks he shouldn’t, look over his shoulder for the uncovered players, and yelling at the dmen to tell them where to be.
      Does a qb look bad when he has a bad o-line? Does he get happy feet? Does he rush his throw? It’s human nature once he gets hit from behind a few times.

  • TKB2677

    The Oilers defense isn’t good. They have to lean on young guys and when you do that, mistakes will happen but they need their goalies to do their job, make the saves they are supposed to and make it so the team doesn’t have to be absolutely prefect defensively in order to have a chance. Right now, pretty much every mistake they make ends up in their net. No team and succeed when you have to try to be perfect every single shift.

  • TKB2677

    The positive out of all of this is every November marks the time of year where I get to re-invest in myself by finding another hobby (or perhaps re-visiting a previous one) to occupy myself with for the winter.

    It’s like LT has said before: same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

    We were fools to even believe (hope) that poor Chia could erase over a decade’s worth of horrible management decisions in one summer.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Stick with Talbot and Nilsson. Like the rest of the team, they need to figure it out. Or lose trying.

    If Chia wants to spend assets, do it on D.

  • wiseguy

    let’s throw big money at Byfuglien and trade Eberle for a real third line centre.





    Extra: Korpikoski




    Extra: Davidson/Gryba

    Nilsson and Talbot

    I’d say Hanzal + Gordon + D prospect or pick = Eberle + Letestu. As for D, I believe we can’t get rid of Sekera either through trade or buyout so we have to wait it out. And sign Schultz to 2 year deal to give him a bit more time and less than 4 mil this time please. If he doesn’t, then let him walk and sign a different RHD who can move the puck.

  • Jordan88

    Loving the “don’t go with youth, that’s the Oilers problem” comments.

    Lets go out and get some vets who can shore things up and bring some stability to this team.

    Let’s go grab an older goalie who knows a thing or two about winning, maybe a guy like Khabibulin. That’ll work for sure.

    Some Dmen who bring that experience and winning attitude will solidify things in our zone. We can go out there and pick up guys like Ference, Sekera, Fayne, and Nikitin. We will have to pay them a bunch, and it will totally tie our hands going forward, but it will be worth it because they won’t make mistakes.

    Clearly going with kids isn’t working….

  • Johnnydapunk

    Geez you guys… Criticism of McClellan??? And guys saying Chiarelli should have moved, bought out players before he’d seen any of them play live? I hope this isn’t what ON is coming to…

    Yes, there is a pattern of good goalies regressing here. And there’s a reason: when a goalie learns he cannot have confidence in the skaters in front of him, he starts to try to do too much. He does this by guessing and cheating to try to anticipate the next 5 bell chance in front of him. What happens is goals going in that the goalie normally would have had; such as from bad angle shots, high shots, and quick shots. The goalie, instead of fully focusing on the puck, is also trying to do some of the skaters’ job in identifying other threats.

    The Oilers defence is the biggest reason that good goalies have regressed here, and when I say “defence” I’m including the forwards as defence is a team system, but in particular we’ve got some bad d-men. Quality D-men are not readily available from other teams. Like it or not, we are where we are, and Chiarelli won’t be able to wave any magic wands. In our immediate future, it’s up to McClellan to try to work some magic…

  • Johnnydapunk

    Think the Oil need to just stop with trying to find someone with potential and go “big game hunting” in the summer for a proven number one. They have tried this finding a goalie with potential for a few years and it won’t work until you have a solid defence corps. All of the successful teams have a proper number one in place and it has to be a priority. One proper number one buys time to put defence pieces together until Broissoit develops (assuming he does as so far he has been impressive)

    You can have one potential but not both as they don’t have consistency which separates a number one from a backup. A backup will give you a game or two of brilliance (or adequacy) but over a run, they have moments of shocking. That’s why I think Talbot had good numbers in New York, there was no pressure and he was just to fill in, like Scrivens had before as well. Nilsson is a bit of a different case as he is still an unknown, but he has impressed me so far and I could see him as a pretty solid backup or even a 1a goalie if needed.

    The other advantage Nilsson has is that he is a win/win for the Oil, if he is amazing then he can be resigned to a bridge deal as he is RFA, or if another team signs him then the Oil get compensation so I think this is the season to really push him to see what he has to offer.

    Talbot is in a tougher position as backups are a dime a dozen and unless he really starts to shine, I don’t know if he has an NHL future or not as there are a lot of backups around/available.

    The final thing is the UFA/RFA market this summer is pretty tasty so with the bad contracts gone, if the Oil show a bit of hope there is a chance for that big game goalie and even defenceman to come this way (Hello Dustin, it’s really not so bad in Edmonton, least you’re used to the cold )

  • gr8one

    I like many of you feel that Talbot has been underwhelming since coming over from the Rangers. He himself would admit he has played like a donkey. The shortside post and or anything near his feet is a problem for him.Admittedly the Oilers defense has not been a shining light either. The deal is the Oilers have 5 to 6 contracts that hamstring this team from the get go. Chia knew that going into the season. Conner gets submarined. The Oilers have to hold their collective noses and suck it up for this season. Play hard. Learn. TM will get them on track by next season.Close your eyes it may get TML bad.

  • gr8one

    To those who think the Oilers record is the sole way to determine whether the Oilers have improved or not this year. I have a little project for you.

    Take every team they have played this year so far and see how many points they have got and then compare it to the record this year.

    The Oilers schedule has been top loaded with teams the Oilers had trouble with last year, I wouldn’t expect that the Oilers would have a better record yet, but by January we should see a different story as quality of opponent normalises.

    The Oilers are doing just fine and playing better.

  • Spydyr

    To those who think the Oilers record is the sole way to determine whether the Oilers have improved or not this year. I have a little project for you.

    Take every team they have played this year so far and see how many points they have got and then compare it to the record this year.

    The Oilers schedule has been top loaded with teams the Oilers had trouble with last year, I wouldn’t expect that the Oilers would have a better record yet, but by January we should see a different story as quality of opponent normalises.

    The Oilers are doing just fine and playing better.

  • Spydyr

    Im more angry that lowetide thinks beer league goalies dont pay for anything hockey related. I pay my fees! Not to mention you’d think some of my gear is gold plated for the prices we pay. Malarkey!!

  • Johnnydapunk

    One of the commentators the other night shared a great opinion the other night on why he thinks the Coyotes have been more successful than the Oilers every year with mostly just average players. He credits it to the fact that Dave Tippett has been there for 6 years and the players know his systems inside out. Even when a new player comes on board they adapt more easily because the rest of the players are already trained on his systems and can help ease the new players into it. The Oilers on the other hand…well, you know. It’s just going to take some more time folks. TMac and staff will eventually get it turned around but 18 games in isn’t nearly enough time. There’s a reason the coaches across the league will rely more on their veteran players and it’s usually because they know the systems better and play the way the coaches want them to. In Todd’s case there is only two or three players he can rely on that way and the rest of the time he’s forced to put players on the ice that he can’t trust. After 40 I’ll bet we see more progress and by next season it will be playoff contenders.

    • TKB2677

      100% agreed….Mac-L needs some Systems help….he is having trouble working timely meaningfull tactical contact into his Processes.

      I however believe he could turn it around in one game with the right assistance or struggle for 82 games…..we have no baseline from which to judge or evalutae Mac-Ls “System”…its brand new…so we simply must wait for osmosis to slowly build fluid stabiliy before we can see forward growth.

      Monkey see…Monkey do…one Monkey at a time I guess….unless Mac-L recieves some help speeding up the process.

      Even if we spend 60 games getting the system down…who’s to say it will be good enough?

      I personally have seen primarily Coaching mistakes mostly directly related to less than optimal |Pre-Game planning and tactical presentations….the boys come out on the wrong foot and cannot adjust out on their own fast enough….once they are tacticlly dialed in they can kick ass on the come-back ….IF SOMEONE ONLINE FEEDS THEM ELITE TACTICAL DATA BETWEEN PERIODS TO KICKSTART THEM LOL… but to my eyes on to many nights the Coaches are falling to many steps behind.

      Al Theeathoone’s post wasnt warmly recieved but I chuckled because I couldnt find a lot to take away from him lol….Mac-L knew he and JW and Fee would be tested…but he had no idea how astute Oilers Fans are…lol…yup its been a Coaching disaster in terms of game to game results….however many solid fundamentals are beginning to become habits and you can see there is a Process trying to get out lol.

      Having a deeply skilled Roster might encourage people to overthink and overcomplicate things for the entire group when a KISS focus would be a better fit…a more KISS than most focus.

      Like a Hammer and Anvil System Focus maybe huh?lol.