While goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is known as the New York Rangers’ biggest star, backup Cam Talbot was a big reason why the club captured its first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994 this season. When Lundqvist went down in February with a vascular injury after taking a shot to his throat in a freakish play, Talbot took the reins and recorded a stellar 16-4-3 record in the King’s absence.
Talbot finished the season with a 21-9-4 record overall, and an excellent save percentage of .926. Having already signed a one-year contract extension with the Rangers through next season, the 27-year-old showed he has what it takes to be a strong number one goalie in the NHL. So while the Rangers were and are fortunate to have someone with Talbot’s skill as their backup, he will no doubt be given an opportunity to start for another NHL club – not to mention a nice payday – if or when he hits unrestricted free agency at the end of next season.
As such, the Rangers do not want to lose Talbot for nothing and would naturally look to move him before next season, while he still has one year left on his contract and while his value is at its highest point. While something in the realm of a second or third-round draft pick seems like the most realistic return for Talbot, it’s possible the Rangers could acquire even more.
Edmonton a Possible Trade Partner?
Despite Talbot’s outstanding performance as a starter for a quarter of this past regular season, there are a few things that could bring down his value slightly. First, he will be 28 years old by the time next season starts. While still young, teams looking to invest in a goaltender long-term would typically seek someone a bit younger.
Secondly, Talbot is only signed through next season. Unless he signs an extension with a potential new club, teams would not want to give up highly valuable assets for someone who could potentially be with them for only one season. Lastly, Talbot has yet to prove that he can keep up an effective level of play over an entire 82-game regular season.
According to Hockey News contributor Murray Pam, the Edmonton Oilers might be willing to look past these detracting factors.
— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) June 13, 2015
While there is nothing to suggest that a deal is imminent, this would represent an incredibly high return for the Rangers, and if it is on the table at any point, it would be a no-brainer for general manager Glen Sather to pull the trigger. As if the Rangers would need further reason to proceed with this, they do not have a first-round pick in this or next year’s draft, as a result of the trades for Martin St. Louis and Keith Yandle. Getting this year’s 16th-overall pick would be huge for New York.
If the Oilers are indeed considering this trade, perhaps they will ultimately come to their senses and not make this offer. They also own an early second-round pick (33rd overall), which would represent a more equitable trade for Talbot. Then again – and this is purely speculation – they could feel that the 16th pick is expendable, since they already own the first-overall pick with which they are expected to select phenom Connor McDavid.
If the Oilers do not end up offering the Rangers the 16th-overall pick in this year’s draft, New York could still likely obtain a decent return, be it a second or third-round pick, or a depth-level, NHL-ready player.
Sather and the Rangers could also get creative if they were looking for a bigger return.* Perhaps they could package another player, such as defenseman Kevin Klein and his $2.9 million cap hit, along with Talbot to sweeten the pot. If they got one or more draft picks in return, the Rangers would simultaneously be shedding salary and improving their prospect cupboard, all while keeping their current core intact. Such an offering could potentially attract multiple suitors.
With the draft less than two weeks away, the Rangers are perhaps looking at their best window of opportunity to deal Talbot. Time will tell if a trade is indeed made and if something as substantial as a first-round draft pick will be a part of it.
*This is purely speculation, as there is nothing to suggest that the Rangers could be considering making this type of trade.