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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Is Cam Talbot the long-term solution?

Hello hello, Nation people. It’s your old friend Baggedmilk back with another edition of the Monday Mailbag to fill your brain bank with all kinds of free knowledge. This time around, we’re looking at Cam Talbot’s season, depth on the right wing, Matt Hendricks, and more. If you have a question for the Mailbag, you can always hit me up through email or on Twitter. Until then, enjoy the reprieve from work and/or life. Enjoy.

Nov 26, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

1) Blake asks – Cam Talbot has had an up and down season which has me wondering if/when the Oilers should look at signing him to an extension. My question is whether or not Cam Talbot has done enough this year to ensure that his next contract comes with the Oilers? Too soon to tell?

Jason Gregor:

The Oilers don’t have a goalie in the system pounding on the door. I could see both sides waiting until midway through next season before signing an extension. Since the start of the 2015/2016 season, Talbot and Braden Holtby have started the most games in the NHL, 163. He has a .915sv% in that time. Of the 22 goalies who have started at least 115 games since then, Talbot is tied for 15th in sv%.

He has been steady, but he isn’t in the category of Holtby, Bobrovsky, Quick, Dubnyk or Crawford, who are all .920% and higher. He currently has the 22nd highest Cap hit among goalies. He will get a raise, no doubt, but how high and for how long? He will be 32 when his next contract kicks in. I think he signs with the Oilers, and I could see it being a four-year deal taking him through to 35 years of age. Unless the Oilers trade for an up and coming goalie I don’t see a better option available in free agency. Talbot has been good since arriving in Edmonton. His numbers are down this season, but overall he has been one of the Oilers best players since arriving. The bonus for the Oilers is this down year could lower his ask a bit.

Robin Brownlee:

You talk contract closer to the end of his deal, which lasts through 2018-19. Why would either side want to rush into something, given the inconsistency he has shown this season? Makes sense for both parties to wait.

Matt Henderson:

I think Talbot will bounce back and show for the foreseeable future that he will be a good starting goalie. If this year means that it might cost less to re-sign Talbot then I count that as one of the few positives.

Cam Lewis:

It actually might not be the worst idea to buy low on an extension during the off-season considering how poor Talbot has been in 2017-18. A lot of his struggles this season likely come down to a combination of being gassed from playing every game last season and the team (well, the penalty kill) being bad. Talbot’s numbers don’t appear as horrific if you just look at what he’s done at even strength.

Chris the Intern:

Interesting question. I would definitely re-sign him as he has proved what he’s capable of. The fact that he’s not having the best season this year might be a blessing for us in contract negotiations. If you either extend his contract during the summer or next season you could probably get him for much cheaper than if he was playing just as stellar this year as he did last.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t know why some people are so worried about Cam Talbot. Aside from his first few games as an Oiler, he’s been generally solid so I don’t know why all the doubt all of a sudden. I would extend him when the Oilers are able to do so.

Jan 9, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

2) David asks – McDavid as captain has often been cited as a “lead by example” type rather than maybe the “rah rah locker room” guy. However, leading by example only really works if the followers are capable of doing what the leader does to an extent, and other than Draisaitl, Nurse, and Nuge, it’s not clear that anyone else on the Oilers can play that way, nor should they (eg, Maroon, Lucic, Kassian). Is there a leader on the Oilers directly holding the other players accountable?

Jason Gregor:

Leading by example isn’t about McDavid making highly skilled plays and having his teammates mirror those moves. It is about practice habits. How hard he works in games and in practice. If the best player on the team is working that hard, often the rest take notice and have no excuse not to work as hard. Lucic is vocal and I believe Darnell Nurse will emerge as the vocal leader among the young players. He is capable of holding players accountable.

Robin Brownlee:

Experience can be a valuable commodity, but leading by rah-rah only works in a significant way if you can deliver the goods yourself. The most important person to hold people accountable is the guy you see when you look in the mirror.

Matt Henderson:

I’m not in the room so I could only speculate. My guess is no, not the way you are thinking. That said, McDavid is a man now and after this season I bet he’ll be more prepared to speak up.

Cam Lewis:

That seems like Milan Lucic’s role, given that he’s the veteran who won a Stanley Cup in Boston. Matt Hendricks was also that guy in the past. Maybe the Oilers need another Hendricks type guy on the team.

Chris the Intern:

I don’t completely agree with you on the leading by example note. I don’t believe that it’s about players playing with similar skill to him. I think it’s more about the effort and passion he shows when he gets fired up about losing. Connor will come out and skate circles around everyone else on the ice (because he can), thus firing up the other members on the team, whether they have the skill to do it or not. As far as guys who hold other players accountable, I would hope Milan Lucic plays that role. I REALLY hope Milan Lucic plays that role but honestly I have no idea if that’s the case in the room or not.

Baggedmilk:

Isn’t Lucic supposed to be that guy? I mean, he talked about bringing swagger back but we haven’t seen much of that this year.

Nov 3, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Gerry asks – Looking at the right wing depth now that RNH is injured and Draisaitl will be moving back to centre, do you think Peter Chiarelli overestimated what he had in that position? It seems to me as though Chia made bets that were unreasonable given the age and experience of the guys he had there.

Jason Gregor:

They hoped a lot of young players would take a step. Some have, but with young players comes inconsistency and that has hurt them, not just on RW, but at various spots in the lineup. Puljujarvi has improved all season and is getting better. No question, Chiarelli hoped for better results from Slepyshev, Caggiula and others. The bets were risky in the sense he hoped at least a few young players would have great years. It hasn’t happened.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t think Chiarelli made bets that were unreasonable. He made bets that haven’t paid off. There’s a difference. Either way, he has to be accountable for them.

Matt Henderson:

He banked on Strome, Caggiula, and Puljujarvi to all have career seasons. Puljujarvi wasn’t ready, Caggiula is maybe a fourth liner, and Strome is a third liner. Safe to say, Chiarelli blew it.

Cam Lewis:

He put a lot of faith in young players and none of them came through. It looks really bad in hindsight, but given how guys like Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev looked in the playoffs, it wasn’t completely unfair. The indefensible moves, though, are still the Eberle trade and Pouliot buyout. Banking on young players whom you expect to be part of your future is fine, but throwing away solid assets isn’t.

Chris the Intern:

He absolutely over-estimated what he had in that position. He took a huge risk based on how everyone played in a short period of time last year. Granted, I was fairly comfortable with his risk at the beginning of the season as well, so I was wrong too.

Baggedmilk:

This is exactly why keeping Nuge is so important. We can’t act like injuries never happen and the fact that Draisaitl has to move back to the centre position leaves that right side wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open. Keep the centre depth. Do what it takes. Bring in more centres if you have to.

Mar 10, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins forward Oskar Sundqvist (40) and Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks (23) get ready for a face off during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

4) @eastcoastoilfans asks – How much of a factor is the loss of a guy like Hendricks in the room? Who is the glue guy on this team?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see it being as much as some think. I think they miss his upbeat attitude, but I don’t think he is the reason Talbot struggled more than expected, the team has had too many defensive zone breakdowns, why the PK has sucked (It was 78% in final 68 games with Hendricks last year) or why the PP has floundered. Hendricks might have helped in better starts, but his absence isn’t the reason the Oilers have struggled in many key areas. Hendricks was also on the team when they missed playoffs in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He isn’t the reason why they are underachieving this year.

Robin Brownlee:

Hendricks, like Ryan Smyth, provided younger players a walking, breathing lesson about what it takes to be a pro in every way — putting in the work, being prepared etc. That matters to varying degrees in terms of results based on the talent and mix on the roster. Glue guys can’t turn a bad roster into a good one. They simply help get the most out of the group you’ve got.

Matt Henderson:

Once again, I’m not in that room. Word is Hendricks was a big part of that dressing room and I’m sure he’s missed there. On ice, he was a part-timer. Off ice, he seemed like the perfect vet.

Cam Lewis:

I dunno. Hunter the Mascot?

Chris the Intern:

My god do I ever miss Matt Hendricks. Rumour has it that Connor loved him as well, which also confused me. Why would you not re-sign someone for cheap if the best player in the world enjoys his company in the room? It was obvious that he was the glue guy and it’s showing now more than ever. I kind of like to imagine Patrick Maroon being a glue guy in the room though. He’s light-hearted, funny, and enjoys every moment.

Baggedmilk:

There was an earlier question about a ‘rah-rah’ kind of guy and I think that this guy was probably a part of that. I had one of the local guys tell me that the boys used to want Hendricks to take warmup with them in the playoffs even though they knew he wasn’t going to play. Why would they do that? Because personalities matter. I’m not saying Hendricks alone is the missing link, that’s not the case at all, but it sure seemed like he helped.

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Smyth celebrates a goal by teammate Jason Smith (not shown) against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of NHL hockey action at Edmonton’s Rexall Place on Thursday, January 18, 2007.
(CP PHOTO/Jimmy Jeong)

5) @oilersbetter asks – If you were to guess, who will be the next number retiree for the Oilers?

Jason Gregor:

It should be Kevin Lowe. Their current “rule” states a player has to be in the Hall of Fame to have his jersey retired, which I don’t agree with, but if they maintain that rule then at this point the next one to go up would be #97. I assume he will be in the HHOF when he retires. But, if they have a change of heart on their ruling, then Lowe’s #4 should go up next.

Robin Brownlee:

Unless the Oilers change the conventions they have in place for retiring numbers, it’ll be Connor McDavid.

Matt Henderson:

If the requirement is the Hockey Hall of Fame then the next number will be 97. If the team is moving to “honour” numbers then it’s 94.

Cam Lewis:

It’s gotta be Chris Pronger’s No. 44 right?

Chris the Intern:

I would guess maybe Kevin Lowe? He seems like the most likely and I’m sort of surprised it hasn’t happened already.

Baggedmilk:

Easy. Ryan Smyth. Who else would you pick? Maybe Kevin Lowe when his time in management is over but who the hell knows when that will be. Smytty or Lowe are my guesses.

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  • Clayton

    It better be Talbot. The Oil don’t have much else beyond him. Montoya has proven that even a back up role is a stretch, Broissoit showed he isn’t ready (and likely won’t ever be). The Oil don’t have the assets to trade for a Bonafide starter or even a hot young up and comer…they need the assets to address their Wing and D issues. And…while there are a couple interesting options to hit the Free Agent Market soon…the Oilers likely won’t have the Cap Space to get something done with the premier Free Agent goalies.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Retire 94. Smitty was the embodiment of the Oilers/Edmonton when I was a kid, so much so that I emulated him while playing minor hockey (stand in front of the net, get worked over, score greasy goal). I think 94 is already symbolically retired though, if a young guy came in and said he wanted to wear 94, I’d hope one of the players/coaches/managers would pull the kid aside and explain why that’s not gonna happen.

  • freelancer

    Talbot has had some rough bits but he is far from the main problem. We’ve seen this before with Dubnyk. Behind the current defense we are icing it would be very difficult for any goaltender to look great.

    • ed from edmonton

      Let’s not make excuses for players who have not performed. The regression of Talbot and Klef this year are among the top reasons the Oil and where they are. Talbot has been the second best goalie in of the games this year, quite a drop off from last year.

      • freelancer

        Not excuses. Talbot needs to be much better. However Oiler fans have this lovely habit of wanting to run players out of town when they have a bad year and then complain the next season on why the team traded said player.

        I do not think Talbot is necessarily as good as he was last year but overall numbers suggest he certainly isn’t this bad either.

  • 24% body fat

    sorry you Lucic supporters, but I have heard from a source that is inside the dressing room, that Lucic is not a good leader and may be a hinderance inside the dressing room. Just because a player is a veteran does not make him a leader. Maybe he can bring some advice to the younger players but that does not make you a leader either. He was brought in to be a character guy and clearly he is not. Yet we traded Hall for these reasons. Good Job Chia and old boys club. more years of a contract that will kill the oilers.

    Please dont ask for the source. Breaking confidentiality is a dick move, and you can take it for what its worth.

      • 24% body fat

        haha. that use to be the diet until my doctor told me to change. once back in shape I will be back on that diet. my name use to be 48 percent body fat. baby steps my friend. baby steps.

    • The Future Never Comes

      What sort of joy do you get out of pretending you have insider information? Aka that information is what you assume and you mask it by saying you heard it from a player. Grab a clue bud.

      • 24% body fat

        sorry buddy, but the source told me about klefbom, sekera and nuge injuries instantly. I have records showing this on this site and lowetides. I also have records showing what kleboms contract was going to be 6 months before he signed it.

        The joy isnt about having an insider. It is about opening peoples mind to stop buying into the crap that the oilers management and main connected meida people feed the fans. Hall was gone because he was bad in the dressing room? Lucic was signed because he has character?

        sure say that all you want. Try justifying how they gave away assets on the dollar by making bad bets.

        Lucic is not a character guy, he is past his prime, overpaid and lazy. I know my source is credible, as I said take it for what you want, your opinion doesnt matter to me.

        • The Future Never Comes

          I still don’t believe a word you say, there’s hundreds of attention hungry people that make up rumors solely based on there own perception.

    • btrain

      More conspiracy theory? Just a question, does anyone who has played a higher level of hockey (i.e. AA, AAA, Junior, and up) buy into these dressing room rumors? I don’t know about others but in my experience, drama in a dressing room, is probably more intense but more temporary then any other setting I can think of. If someone inside a hockey dressing room reported a veteran teammate as a hindrance, I would be much more concerned with the person making these claims than the Vet.
      I also don’t think Lucic is much different of a player than he was in Boston, we just get to see far more of his lackluster performances then we would have when he was playing for other teams. At the end of the day he still produces at about the same rate, hits at about the same rate, and gets in fights about the same rate as he has throughout his career. There is only a bit of a decline in his Penalty minutes but can’t really blame the guy for being more careful with this PK.

      • 24% body fat

        you can say the production is the same, what is he doing for the outcome of the game? Is he helping produce or is he along for the ride. Is he taking icetime from someone who can be more productive. Is his cap going to hinder signing better younger players in their prime. Etc.

  • ed from edmonton

    At the end of last season PC stated that he would be looking for growth from some of his younger players. He was true to hos word (as has been so far) and gave the likes of Caggulia, Sleppy, Strome, Jp and Khaira an opportunity. When a 150 lb 18 year old outplayed all of them in training camp the writing was on the wall. Perhaps PC’s biggest failure this year was not using his unused cap space to hedge his bets in this area.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Talbot has given us the best goaltending we’ve had here in quite some time and might be the best we’re going to do. Having said that, we probably should sign him long term for fear of not being able to find a suitable replacement.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Inconsistency does not build confidence. Inconsistent Goaltending brings the whole team down. Goaltenders like Quick, Dryden, Crawford, Roy, Ranford, Esposito, Belfour, Roloson, Brodeur, play their best in the BIG games.
      The term “Money Goaltender” describes them. Cam Talbot is very inconsistent.

  • is anything a long term solution in an job/industry where the average career is 4 or 5 years? Where one day everyone is waxing poetic about how you’re providing the solid goaltending the team has been missing for 10 years, and the next people are asking if you can even do the job anymore? One injury and you could be a shadow of the player you once were. No guarantees in life.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Great goaltenders don’t get pulled every 3rd or 4 start. Great goaltenders pull their teams out of slumps. We have been in an entire season slump. Hot goaltenders steal games. Not sure we have done any stealing this year.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    I think Talbot has been an overall pretty decent goalie since we got him (consider who we’ve had in the years prior)….however I would try and pluck Hutchinson from WPG in the offseason and actually have someone knocking on the door and potentially challenge him next year prior to signing him to an extension