The Edmonton Oilers did what most people expected they would when they traded goaltender Cam Talbot on Friday evening. After the Oilers 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Talbot was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers for goaltender Anthony Stolarz.
The Oilers did not retain any salary and Talbot waived his no-trade clause to faciliate the move.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 16, 2019
Why Talbot Was Traded
There were a few reasons from the Oilers perspective to move Talbot.
First, the team is about ready to welcome back defenseman Andrej Sekera and as part of his return to the lineup, the Oilers needed to get under the salary cap ceiling. Moving Talbot’s over $4 million in salary was the easiest way to do so. Second, Talbot was a pending unrestricted free agent, one that was unlikely to return.
Just a few weeks ago, the Oilers gave newly acquired netminder Mikko Koskinen a three-year extension worth $4.5 million per season. That decision showed Koskinen was the Oilers starter moving forward and if Talbot were to return, he’d need to be comfortable doing so for far less than his current salary and as a backup.
Finally, the Oilers are moving farther and farther away from a playoff spot. Their loss to the Hurricanes now puts them seven points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. One has to imagine that if the Oilers move farther away from the playoffs, Stolarz will get a serious test drive as a go-to netminder for the remainder of the season.
Where Talbot will be missed is in the Oilers locker room where he was a very popular player. Should Koskinen struggle, the Oilers may wish they’d held onto one of their stars from the 2016-17 playoff season.
Why the Flyers Acquired Talbot
For Philadelphia, their future in net is likely secure with prospect Carter Hart. Still, asking Hart to take on the role of a starter at this point is a big ask. The Flyers — a team who had gone through seven goaltenders over the course of the 2018-19 season and will break a record with eight once Talbot plays — likely felt it was a good idea to have a more secure No. 1A to go along with Hart as the final 25 games of the NHL season closed for the team.
Hart is also a big fan of Talbot, having worked with him in the offseason. A mentor of sorts, Hart will look to Talbot for guidance and support as he grows into the Flyers netminder of the future. Philadelphia may elect to try and re-sign Talbot on a one or two-year extension to help slowly ease Hart into a legitimate NHL starter.
What About Anthony Stolarz?
Speculation was the Oilers were offered Brian Elliott but had their eyes on Stolarz, who can become a restricted free agent this summer if he plays for 30 minutes or more in 10 of the Oilers final 25 games. This would allow the team to keep control over the player’s contract and have their future backup netminder already inside the organization. then they will avoid the 25-year-old becoming a Group VI UFA this summer.
Stolarz, a second-year pro, is 4-3-3 in his 10 2018-19 appearances this season. He’s posted a 3.33 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
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Earlier on Friday, we spoke of the most likely names on the trade board and I actually had Talbot as the top name on my trade board. This move was inevitable and throughout the day on Friday, reporters from TSN and other media knew the Flyers and Oilers were talking. It was simply a matter of time before the deal came to fruition.
Who actually made the deal from the Oilers side is unclear as there are rumors Keith Gretzky, Craig MacTavish and Bob Nicholson are all working together but the Oilers are sure to address the media on Saturday regarding the trade.