There’s no doubt that Mikko Koskinen has taken the net from Cam Talbot at this point. Talbot hasn’t won a game in a month and the Oilers have been riding the hot hand of Koskinen as he’s started in four of the team’s past six games. I imagine he’ll be playing against Los Angeles and Vegas this week too.
To further compound this, it appears the Oilers might be looking to move on from Talbot. According to Frank Seravalli, the Oilers have made Talbot available for trade.
Per @frank_seravalli, it sounds like the Edmonton Oilers have made Cam Talbot available for trade.
— Zach Laing (@zjlaing) November 28, 2018
Both Talbot and Koskinen are eligible to hit free agency this summer. Talbot currently carries a $4,166,667 cap hit from the three-year extension he signed mid-way through his first season in Edmonton back in 2015-16. Koskinen has a $2.5 million cap hit from the one-year deal he inked when the Oilers signed him out of the KHL last summer.
Talbot had a rough time last year and things haven’t gotten better this year. He has a .889 save percentage in 15 games and, as I said earlier, hasn’t won a game in a month. In his first two seasons with the Oilers, Talbot was excellent. He posted .917 and .919 save percentages and played a key role in helping the Oilers reach the playoffs. But he’s struggled in the past year-and-a-half, ultimately resulting in him losing his starting gig.
How would a trade involving Talbot go down? Maybe the Oilers could look to deal Talbot for another soon-to-be UFA goalie along with a sweetener. For example, the Red Wings have Jimmy Howard rolling with a .922 save percentage. Maybe Talbot and a pick or a prospect could get a deal done. Further on that idea, maybe the Oilers could do something involving Detroit’s soon-to-be UFA winger Gustav Nyqvist while they’re at it.
If not that, maybe Talbot gets used in a deal for a top-six winger, which is probably at the top of Edmonton’s needs right now. I can’t remember the last time I saw a goalie dealt mid-season for a top-six winger, though. Generally, when goalies are dealt, it’s done so for picks and prospects. That seems to make the most sense here. If the Oilers can get prospect and pick capital for Talbot, it gives them more ammo to make a deadline rental acquisition to fill another hole on the roster.
Trading Talbot certainly comes with a risk. As great as Koskinen has been, it’s a very small sample size. We’ve seen Ben Scrivens and Anders Nilsson perform well here in recent years in small sample sizes and then fall off a cliff. Dumping Talbot, unless another goalie is coming back, puts Edmonton in a position in which Koskinen is the guy and Al Montoya is the line of defence beyond him. That’s a lot of pressure on a goalie without a track record.