In the weeks leading up to this year’s draft, now-former Rangers backup goaltender Cam Talbot was one of the most sought-after trade targets around the league, given his strong performance filling in for Henrik Lundqvist for over a quarter of the season. There was interest from a number of teams and New York GM Glen Sather and company seemed to be sitting pretty as they prepared to watch a bidding war unfold.
Talbot, along with the draft’s 209th pick, was indeed traded to one of his rumored destinations, the Edmonton Oilers. However, the return of the 57th pick, 79th pick, and 184th pick was much less than the Rangers seemed to be on track to get in the hours leading up to the eventual deal.
Sather Goes a Bit Too Far
The idea of a big return for Talbot started with a report that the Oilers would be willing to give up the 16th overall pick for him. If that was indeed on the table, they obviously pulled it back at some point along the way. Sather, though, appeared to be motivated to go for not only a first-round pick, but an even bigger package.
The Rangers were then reportedly offered two second round picks for Talbot from an unknown team a few days before the draft, but turned it down. Then on the first day of the draft, they were indeed offered a first-round pick but Sather did not even bite on that.
NYR have been offered a 1st rounder for Talbot. Not from Oilers or Flames. Dallas, SJ and Florida still involved. 1st isn’t a deal maker.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 26, 2015
This is where Sather’s approach started to become questionable, if indeed such an offer was in play. He had negotiated long enough and well enough to make a team offer a first-round draft pick for Talbot. The notion that he and the Rangers apparently wanted even more is surprising to say the least, as a first-rounder alone would have been a bounty of a return for Talbot. While there is no way to know all of the details of the negotiations and trade offers, and what other reasons, if any, kept Sather from pulling the trigger earlier on, it certainly appeared that the quality of the offers for Talbot rapidly declined after Sather allegedly turned down the offer of a first rounder.
After that point, it turned out that Talbot was not even the first goalie to be traded, as the Buffalo Sabres — another team rumored to be interested in Talbot in the weeks leading up to the draft — acquired Ottawa’s Robin Lehner, along with David Legwand, for the 21st overall pick. Buffalo was thus out of the bidding war for Talbot, giving the Rangers slightly less leverage. Then as the draft began and the first round progressed, several of the other teams said to be interested in Talbot — San Jose, Dallas, and Florida — made their picks without any hint of a possible Talbot trade.
The Rangers’ chance to move into the first round of the draft — they once again had no first-round pick because of the Martin St. Louis trade — was slipping away. The Oilers were coming up at number 16, but they ended up dealing not only that pick, but also the 33rd overall pick, to the New York Islanders for defenseman Griffin Reinhart. It was a huge punch to the gut for Sather and the Rangers: both picks seemed to be possible to acquire in a Talbot trade, but they were instead both dealt to the club’s bitter rival.
A Tough End to the Talbot Saga
The eventual trade of Talbot to Edmonton, and its disappointing return, was the price Sather and his staff had to pay for waiting just a little too long and asking just a little too much, where they had to salvage something for Talbot. But this should not have been about salvaging some value — it should have been about acquiring high value. On the heels of the Carl Hagelin trade, this deal was a difficult blow for the Rangers.
Again, to be fair, we do not know about all of the details of the offers that were on the table for Talbot. Sure, there might have been two second round picks available in one offer, but one or both could have been conditional. In that offer and others, there might have been other pieces proposed — either additional good players the Rangers were asked to give up or bad contracts they were asked to take on, which would not work for them in their salary cap crunch. While the Panthers reportedly offered young restricted free agent center Jimmy Hayes — brother of the Rangers’ Kevin — to New York, they likely would have had difficulty fitting his next contract into their salary structure.
There are a lot of unreported variables in the Talbot trade negotiations that could have prevented Sather from agreeing to a trade earlier. Still, it seems that Sather and the front office could have netted a better return — even if not a first round pick — had they not pushed for such a big return and dragged out the negotiation process so much.