On Friday night, the Oilers finally announced a move that had been rumoured for a few days. They sent veteran goaltender Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for 25-year-old Anthony Stolarz.
The Flyers selected Stolarz in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft and he is currently in his fifth professional season. He strikes me as a goalie who is getting to the ‘make-or-break’ portion of his career.
Stolarz has the physical makeup of a modern number one goalie. He’s listed at 6’6 and just a bit over 200 pounds. Safe to say, he takes up a lot of the net.
He’s started 113 games in the American Hockey League throughout his career and has proven he can be successful at that level. In 2015/16, he posted a 0.916 save percentage and a 2.92 GAA in 47 starts. He had a brief stint earlier this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate, and the numbers weren’t pretty. In just five starts he had a 3.58 GAA and a 0.901 save percentage.
He’s gone through some adversity as well, missing close to the entire 2017/18 campaign after undergoing his second surgery in just five months to repair a torn left meniscus. That same knee caused him problems earlier in 2017. He appeared in just four regular season games, three in the AHL and one in the ECHL.
On December 15th this season, he exited a game with a lower-body injury that kept him out of action for over a month. The injuries at such a young age are definitely a concern.
He’s healthy now and has appeared in 12 NHL games this season with the Flyers producing a 3.33 GAA and a 0.902 SV%. There have been a few rough games this season that have really hurt his numbers. He gave up six goals to the Flames back in December and got shelled for four goals against in a relief appearance against the Jets just three days prior. His best game of the season no doubt came on January 29th when he stopped 38 shots in a shutout performance against the New York Rangers.
He has an even strength save percentage of 0.905, which ranks below Cam Talbots (0.911) and Mikko Koskinen (0.914) and puts him 55th amongst NHL goalies who have played at least 500 minutes this season. He’s done well when faced with high-danger chances, which we know the Oilers give up a lot of. His 0.865 high-danger save percentage ranks 8th among goalies (min. 500 minutes)
Another area I found interesting was his play when his team was shorthanded. The Flyers have had an awful penalty kill this season, currently sitting 27th in the league with a 76.6%, but Stolarz has been one of the leagues better PK stoppers. Granted, he’s only been in net for 56 shorthanded minutes, he ranks 8th in the league in PK SV% with a 0.902 and has a high-danger save percentage of 0.909, which ranks third. The Oilers really struggle on the PK as well, they’re 29th in the league, so Stolarz will likely be tested a lot when he gets between the pipes.
(all numbers via naturalstattrick.com)
His contract is very interesting as well. This season, he has a cap hit of just $760k. The Oilers cleared out over $3.5m in this trade, which is a clear win as it allows them to recall Andrej Sekera come Monday morning.
Talbot was also a UFA at the end of the season while Stolarz is an RFA, so the Oilers could control his rights at the end of the season. The reason I say they “could” is because if Stolarz doesn’t play at least 30 minutes in at least ten of Edmonton’s final 25 games, he becomes a ‘Group IV UFA’ which means he would be free to sign wherever he pleases.
TSN’s Ryan Rishaug is reporting that the Oilers aren’t too concerned with this and they really shouldn’t be. If Stolarz comes in and plays good, then the Oilers should have no problem giving him ten starts. If he comes in, plays poorly, and doesn’t reach the ten game mark, then they likely won’t want to resign him anyways.
All things considered, I like this move by the Oilers. Talbot wasn’t going to come back and now they get a look at a 25-year-old goaltender with great physical attributes, lots of professional experience, and some potential to be a legit backup goaltender next season.
We’ll see how the next 25 games play out.
STOLARZ’S SEASON SO FAR