For the last few weeks, it was more a matter of when and not if the New York Rangers would trade netminder Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers. Despite more than a few teams showing interest in Henrik Lundqvist’s caddy, the smart money was on the 28-year-old eventually landing in the Alberta capital.
At least that was the case heading into the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. However, the moment Peter Chiarelli decided to send the No. 16 and No. 33 picks over to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenceman Griffin Reinhart, most believed the Oilers were no longer in the mix for the Rangers backup goalie. They still had interest but apparently no longer had the necessary assets to get a deal done.
Let’s not forget there were whispers suggesting Glen Sather and company turned down a deal that would have seen them acquire a first-round pick during Friday night’s festivities. Whether it was a case of New York being a little greedy or simply trying to outsmart themselves, by the end of the evening, Talbot was still a member of their organization and the time to adjust their asking price had arrived. With that being case, the Oilers were back in the game.
As soon as Niemi trade happened, Oilers closed Talbot deal. GLundqvist, ood trade.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 27, 2015
Stars May Have Forced Oilers Hand
While Edmonton would have loved a goaltender to add to their roster at the draft, it was not their main priority. The former Boston Bruins general manager had repeatedly stated there were plenty of goaltenders on the market and he would not be rushed into making a bad deal. While we will never know for sure, it looked as though the Oilers were hoping to land one of Robin Lehner, Antti Niemi or Talbot to be their go-to guy in 2015-16.
To his credit, after watching the Buffalo Sabres pay a fairly hefty price to obtain Lehner from the Ottawa Senators and the Dallas Stars acquire the rights to Niemi for a seventh-round pick, Chiarelli decided to make his move and it paid off. Instead of coughing up multiple selections in the first couple of rounds to get their hands on Talbot, Edmonton gave up picks No. 57, No. 79 and swapped seventh-rounders with the Rangers. A second and third round pick, for a possible solution in goal, was a fair price to pay.
Talbot May Or May Not Be The Answer
In my mind, they would have been better off bringing in an established starter but as a consolation prize, grabbing the 6’3″ and 195-pound netminder may actually work in the Oilers favour. Instead of committing to a player like Niemi on a multi-year deal, this move will give them options moving forward. If Talbot were to come in and show he can carry the workload of starting goaltender and play at the level he showed in limited duty with the Rangers, then Chiarelli signs him to an extension and everyone is happy.
With that said, if he proves incapable of dealing with the pressure of being a clear-cut No. 1 and is unable to deliver, the Oilers simply walk away from the situation and move on. With one year remaining on his current deal that will see him make $1.45 million, there are no strings attached. If he doesn’t perform, they allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and continue on their way in search of a starting goalie. Seems pretty straightforward.
[Related Article: Griffin Reinhart Deal Changes Things]
With roughly $16 million scheduled to come off the books following the 2015-16 campaign, Peter Chiarelli should be sitting pretty when it comes to the salary cap. Outside of Oscar Klefbom and possibly Justin Schultz, the Edmonton Oilers have no expiring contracts to deal with when it comes to their young core. Should they have the need to go out and find another goalie, so be it. By the looks of it, next summer is the time for this organization to go out and address their shortcomings.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.