Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Showcasing Talbot?

Despite signing a three-year extension on January 22nd, worth a surprising $4.5 million per season, Mikko Koskinen has only started one of the four games for the Edmonton Oilers since the bye week. The timing of his signing struck me as odd from the moment it came out. I didn’t see the need to sign him in January considering he’d only had 27 appearances and posted a .910sv%. It was more perplexing when you consider Cam Talbot is also a pending UFA and has a longer track record. Would Koskinen have turned down the contract after the season? I doubt it.

The other possibility was what if Talbot plays well, and we are seeing that unfold right now.

Many have tweeted me or texted my show saying the Oilers are showcasing Talbot and that’s why he has started three of four games.

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It is a reasonable theory, except it has a few major flaws.

1. The Oilers organization desperately needs to win hockey games and make the playoffs. Teams want to make it every year, of course, but with many luxury suite holders’ three-contracts set to expire in a few months, a playoff berth might be the only thing that convinces them to renew. Winning is more important than acquiring a pick for Talbot.

2. Ken Hitchcock needs to win games because he wants to return as head coach next season. He isn’t playing Talbot just to “showcase” him. He wants to win and right now Talbot is playing better than Koskinen.

3. The Oilers have seven games before the February 25th trade deadline. If Talbot continues to play well they could win four games. If they win four games they will be right in the playoff hunt at the deadline. Do you honestly believe they would trade Talbot? How do you sell that to your players, season seat holders and fans? “We really need a second round pick.” I don’t think so.

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4. I don’t see a big market for him. Maybe Buffalo or Carolina, but I don’t see it.

The “showcasing Talbot” theory doesn’t make sense when the main focus is the playoffs. If Koskinen was playing well and playing regularly that would be one thing, but Talbot will start again tomorrow, meaning he’ll have started 80% of the games coming out of the bye week, which just happens to also be the most important games of the season to date.

Blackhawks at Oilers 02/11/20 – Odds and NHL Betting Trends

The Oilers are right in the playoff hunt.

Six teams are within four points for the two Wildcard spots. The Blues are playing the best hockey and if I was putting out odds I’d give them the best chance — far from a guarantee though — to make the postseason, but after them it is wide open. Minnesota is on pace for the most points of the remaining five teams, but they just lost their captain Mikko Koivu for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, the Oilers just got Oscar Klefbom back in the lineup. Major injuries can alter how a team plays, both good and bad.

If the Oilers manage to win four of their next seven games they will still be in the playoff mix on February 25th. You can say you still think the chances are low they make the playoffs, and that could be accurate, but if Talbot is playing well the Oilers can’t afford to trade him away and weaken the talent of their team. Again.

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The players know who is talented. They know who can help them win and Talbot, even if he splits duties with Koskinen the rest of the way, gives them a better chance to win than a second round pick and the backup goalie they would get in return.

Oilers management must stop their trend of making trades which downgrade the talent pool of their team. They are in this mess because of it.

Yes, it is odd Talbot doesn’t have an extension, despite playing better than Koskinen lately, but that is the scenario. If Talbot plays well down the stretch and helps Edmonton remain in the playoff picture the Oilers have no choice but to keep him.

They have to do it for their players, but also their season ticket holders and fans. There is a lot riding on the next few months, and I don’t buy the suggestion Edmonton is showcasing Talbot.

They are trying to win games and he gives them the best chance right now.

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Fifty goal scorers are rare, but in the past decade even scoring 40 goals is difficult. In the past ten seasons there hasn’t been a year with more than eight 40-goal scorers, and the NHL hasn’t had a pair of teammates score 40 goals in the same season since 2012.

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Morning Report: Oilers vs. Blackhawks (11 February)

Year       40G men       50 goals           Teammates
2009          8                    1                     None
2010          7                    3                     Alex Ovechkin (50) and Alex Semin (40).
2011          5                    1                     Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin (41 each).
2012          4                    2                     Evgeni Malkin (50) and James Neal (40).
2013          0                    0                     **lockout shortened season
2014          3                    1                     None
2015          3                    1                     None
2016          4                    1                     None
2017          3                    0                     None
2018          8                    0                     None

Ovechkin is the only player to score 50 goals in a season since 2012. Not surprisingly he is leading the NHL in goals again this year with 37. He had 49 last season, and is on pace for 56 right now. Jeff Skinner has 33 goals and is on pace for 51. Leon Draisaitl is third in goals with 32 and is on pace for 48. McDavid is on pace for 47.

Draisaitl and McDavid are on pace to become the first teammates since Malkin and Neal to score 40 goals, and  they could become the first teammates to score 45 goals since Markus Naslund (48) and Todd Bertuzzi (46) did it with the Vancouver Canucks in 2003.

It is rare to have two teammates score at the rate McDavid and Draisaitl are. Enjoy it.

The 1990s saw four sets of teammates score 50 goals.

Mario Lemieux (69) and Jaromir Jagr (62) were the last to do it in 1996 with Pittsburgh.
Brendan Shanahan (52) and Brett Hull (57) did it with the 1994 Blues.
Sergei Federov (56) and Ray Sheppard (52) for the 1994 Red Wings.
Alex Mogilny (76) and and Pat Lafontaine (53) with the 1993 Sabres.

If McDavid and Draisaitl can stay hot and both reach 50 it would be remarkable feat for both of them.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Uncle Iroh

    AHAHAHAH enjoy Costinen for the next 3 years abagofpucks!! Might as well ask Russell to hop in between the pipes, blocking shots is all he’s good for.

  • SlaveLake

    It is strange that’s for sure. Even with all the people on this site speculating, for example trying to say Hitchcock convinced Chia to trade for Manning; I haven’t seen any rationale speculation trying to explain the Oilers handling of Kosk and Talbot.

    • jesse says yep

      If Both McDavid and Draisaityl make it to 50 that would give the Oil approx 2 goals per game til the end of the season. Some good goaltending and timely scoring from Nuge /Chaisson/Rattie/Nurse and Klefbom would definitely put them right in the mix until the end.

  • Himynameistaylor

    It would be the most oilers thing ever to play a goalie who’s playing better than the guy they just overpaid to trade him at the deadline and play the guy that’s been playing poorly should the playoffs come around.

    I don’t get this team.

  • OilCan2

    McDavid & Draisaitl are making this season interesting. With Klefbom back and Sekera skating in Bakersfield spring hockey is looking better all the time. Will Talbot sign here in the summer for lower $$$? Does this make Starrett the heir apparent back up? Yzerman for GM.

  • Consultant

    What was Chiarelli thinking with the Koskinen deal??
    Fine to run with Talbot but with Koskinen signed I don’t see any scenario where we don’t trade Cam…
    Buffalo seems like the obvious landing place. They need to make the playoffs, how about Cam for Ullmark and a second or third rounder?

  • The future never comes

    Gregor, what’s the most likely scenario to clean up cap room for Sekera? Manning and Petro to the minors? Also, is Sek playing both games this weekend?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    With all due respect, Jason, I don’t think the Oilers really can’t lose with that tactic. In fact, this was bound to happen this season because the Oilers were in somewhat-unusual territory – having their two goalies turn UFA at end of the season.

    Koskinen is, in many ways, a “next-year” project. I think it’ll be a value contract, recent struggles aside. I wasn’t overly uncomfortable with signing him the way they did, because, like I say, it’s somewhat unusual for a team to have to go out and hunt for two goalies on July 1 and if they could find an in-house solution on one of them before then, great. I’m OK with that.

    Meanwhile, if Talbot plays well enough to squeeze a roster player or a decent pick out of a team on or before February 25th, that’s great. But if he really shoots the lights out and the Oilers are in a playoff spot on Feb. 25, then yeah, they should probably keep him for now. You’re right.

    But, in my mind, the Oilers are definitely “showcasing” Talbot. In fact, I think they’re showcasing him for two sets of buyers. One is whomever might be willing trade for him on Feb. 25. The other is whoever wants to sign him for July 1, which is a huge favour to Talbot.

    After the last year-and-a-half of struggles, the next three weeks of Talbot’s life will be crucial to his career and his life away from hockey. By playing him down the stretch, they’re motivating him to sell himself to whatever team out there wants to sign him on July 1. That might be his last big contract of his career.

    Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if there might even be a “gentlemen’s deal” between Talbot, the coaching staff and (what’s left of) management. They agree to play him down the stretch and see what happens. If he plays well and they can trade him for something at the deadline, great. If he plays extremely well (whatever that is) and has the Oilers in a playoff spot on the deadline day, even better.

    Either way, the Oilers win and probably Talbot does, too. I have no idea if he’d re-sign here (the overwhelming majority of UFAs don’t re-sign with their previous teams), but that’s another worry for another day. Talbot’s contract is up in a few months and it’s time for him to deliver some final value for it.

  • Serious Gord

    So let’s assume (hope?) that talbot plays out of his mind between now and the trade deadline and the oil are in the playoff picture.

    Does this org keep him and thus lose him for nothing?

    Or do they trade him and P. O. The fans – especially if Koskinen craps the bed the remainder of the season and oil miss the playoffs?

    Signing Koskinen is such a baffling decision…

    • Spaceman Spiff

      It’s not that baffling. Really.

      They didn’t want to go out on July 1 looking for two goalies. One, maybe. But not two. So this season was essentially a tryout for one spot in the form of a contract extension. Koskinen won it, based on his play from November to end of December and Talbot’s poor play. So they re-upped him. Bit of a gamble, but it was also a weird situation.

      As for Talbot, if he plays well and they make the playoffs, and he walks away to another team on July 1, I don’t really think that’s “losing him for nothing.” They got what they really wanted and needed from him – a goalie to get them to the playoffs this spring. And Talbot gets what he needs – some badly-needed positive “capital” for his agent to take to market on July 1.

      If he bombs the next two weeks and the Oilers can’t move him at the deadline… well, the Oilers cut him his last paycheque, shake hands and say “thanks for 2016-17, dude.”

      As for Koskinen, I’m not overly worried about him. My guess is if Talbot’s dealt on or before Feb. 25, that will also serve as a motivating factor for him. It’ll be his team now. No more awkwardness between him and the incumbent. But even if Koskinen can’t get it done, they can go out and shop for starter or someone to push him. I don’t think they’ll need to.

  • Oil9744

    If Edmonton can move Talbot with his full 4 mill cap hit and use that to get a top 6 winger like Simmonds or Zuccarello then they should for sure do it. This team needs a lot more help on the wing then having a back up goalie at 4 mill. They obviously made the desicion of going with Koskinen in the future so trade Talbs for assets and some cap space to help Connor Leon and Nuge up front.

  • camdog

    If you trade Talbot you need to replace him with another goalie because you are surely not going all in with Koskinen. I can’t imagine a new GM going all in on Koskinen either.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Maybe the new GM will just do what the “committee” tells him to do.

      We have conflicting reports…Oilers Now Bob has said repeatedly that Chia was his own man and made decisions on his own. Then, BN says that the Koskinen contract decision was made with input from other hockey execs. Then others in the media speculate that Hitch wanted Manning, so Chia got him. It would appear that there are conflicting stories on how things went in Oilerland. Not really surprising, but certainly concerning.

      • Firing them all would put an end to the speculation, if I was a player, agent, coach, asst coach, etc I would steer clear of this convoluted mess for my own sake. Keeping the 80’s gang is holding us back in a lot of ways. All this nonsense about “The Plan” . Anybody know what the plan is? Do they? I doubt it. The only plan is self preservation.

      • Total Points

        It still is pretty simple – Lowe, McTavish, Howden, Wayne Gertzky are still making the decisions. Anyone who does not believe that must have missed seeing them at the 2018 draft table

        • Oilers website. Mac-T Title?VP Hockey Operations. My grandchildren are better at lying. Scott Howson VP Player Development (Failure speaks for itself, anybody developed is now elsewhere) Duane Sutter VP Player Personnel. Cant pin any one thing on him actually, but a Sutter working for the Oilers? If the Flames did not want him, that should tell us something.

  • Abagofpucks

    LOL i wasn’t that big on koskinen in the beginning, then he had a good run and became a fan favorite. Since then he’s cooled off as well as Talbot and now Talbot seems to be going on a run of his own. But Oilers management saw fit to sign Koskinen to a very nice 4.5 mil deal that confuses everybody. I know i don’t understand our management here in Edm it’s like their out of control with no real plan.But i do know one thing, I dont know how i get Foolsnation aka FN all worked up that they hang on my every word and follow me around lol.

  • hagar

    The truly hilarious thing about this Talbot speculation is we are talking about a guy that has played a couple games, at the level of an average nhl goalie, instead of a horrible one.

  • Guy5354

    Talbot had all of last year and 1/3 of this year to show he deserved to be the starter. Yeah our D was weak but honestly so was Cam. Both goalies are playing about the same right now but Cam would probably get us more in the market. It’s smart to showcase him. Hopefully it will be a win win for Cam and the team….if he is traded.

  • jesse says yep

    @ Gregor
    The Oilers are in the tweener phase where they want to think about the future while also attempting to get the team into the playoffs. The reason why is beside the point.
    For me, Talbot has shown a tendency to perform poorly for the first half of the season, costing the Oilers important points and putting the team behind the 8 ball. For this reason I wouldn’t resign Talbot regardless of how he finishes the year. Whether Koskinen was a good signing or not, Talbot isn’t the guy that is taking this team to the next level.
    So using the premise that he won’t be resigned does it not make perfect sense to get a draft pick for him that can be used to upgrade the wings? Or ideally put him in a package for a player and a pick.

  • Oiler Al

    Someone gave notice on next year.[a] Oilers advise Cam they arent resigning him or [b] Cam said he wasn’t coming back, and the option was a UFA. So they sign the option, all be it to an overpay.
    Always wonder why the local media cannot get the scoop on this stuff?

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Earth to Gregor: just because you assume something it doesn’t make it the truth.

    How do you know gladly Koskinen would have signed at the end of the season? You’re assuming.

    You don’t see any other team offering him the same deal? Why? Once again you’re assuming.

    If Talbot was the player you assume he is, Oilers wouldn’t have signed Koskinen and they sure as heck wouldn’t have played him as much as they did as a back-up earlier in the year.

    Wake up and smell the turd. Talbot is not as good as you assume him to be. Never was, never will be.

    Give you propaganda a rest, and write something with insight and knowledge and not just assumptions and gossip like the rest of your TSN colleagues.

  • ellebee

    I have never gotten the impression that Hitchcock “wants to return as head coach next season”. Everything that has been said by everyone including him since the day he was announced has implied that this is a temporary bandaid situation not intended by anyone to go past the end of the current season.

  • Ted

    Good Gord … We don’t want Short side High glove! He’s the one who’s put us in this hell! Had he decide to show up game one instead of game 50 … Times would be different! First Shot Champ needs to go! He’s had two years to get the contract they were forced to give Kosky! Kosky is number one! His contract says so! … It’s a Talbot showcase! BOOM

  • Corbs

    Jason…do you think they are that concerned about the luxury suite owners cancelling? I’m sure they have a waiting list ready to step in, just like season tickets. I could be wrong but I’d guess that none of the suites go empty.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      We obviously don’t have a clear #1. That said, they have split the starts roughly 50/50 and Mikko has slightly better numbers and 4 more wins. What is concerning to me is that Talbot’s sv% has consistently declined since he was a rookie: .941 NYR, .926 NYR, .917, .919, .908, .895. I know team play matters, but at roughly 30 shots against a game, .895 isn’t going to win very many. Moreover, only 13 of Cam’s 28 starts have been .900 or more and 8 have been .850 or less. Brutal.

      I think if both guys can hit and maintain .910sv% then running 1a/1b for 8-9mil a year for both is just fine by me.

  • KootenayDan

    If both goalies pull up their socks for the playoff run none of this really matters. Lundqvist is making twice what Koskinen makes at 8.5 million so maybe signing Talbot again isn’t out of the question. I highly doubt another team signs him to be their starter so he could be affordable. Personally I hold Chiarelli accountable for his poor decisions not the OBC and I like the fact that Hitch has the nads to do play who he thinks is playing best.