Why the Rangers Should Think Twice Before Trading Talbot

There is plenty of talk and speculation surrounding backup goaltender Cam Talbot. Several reports suggest that the Edmonton Oilers have expressed interest in the 27-year-old Talbot, and may be willing to part ways with the 16th overall pick in the upcoming draft in exchange for the netminder.

Fellow THW colleague Tom Dianora recently wrote that such a trade could net a big return for the Rangers, as they are currently without a first round pick in this summer’s draft. While that is true and there could be some big upsides to dealing Talbot prior to draft day, the downfalls could be equally great.

Here are a few reasons why the Rangers should not trade, or at the very least think twice before trading Cam Talbot this offseason.

Backup Position Underrated in Importance

A quality backup goaltender is more important than many think, and losing Cam Talbot could be more of a risk for the Rangers than many are anticipating.

Bursting onto the scene during the 2013-14 season, the University of Alabama-Huntsville product has proven to be not just a serviceable number two behind Henrik Lundqvist, but an integral piece of the Ranger teams which went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, and back-to-back Conference Finals the past two seasons.

Over those two seasons –his rookie and sophomore campaigns – Talbot, the winner of this year’s Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, played in 21 and 36 contests respectively, and in those 57 total games has a career record of 33-15-5, a 2.00 goals against average, and a .931 save percentage.

It should go without saying that those types of numbers would garner Vezina consideration if they were posted within a single season, and let’s still remember that this has all come behind Henrik Lundqvist, more than likely a future Hall of Famer himself.

And speaking of Lundqvist, it has been the outstanding play of Talbot over his first two years in the NHL that has also allowed “The King” adequate rest during the regular season so that his game is in top shape come the playoffs.

Between 2006 and 2010, Lundqvist had gone four consecutive seasons playing in 70 games or more, a tremendous workload for a starting goaltender. Since the emergence of Talbot, however, Lundqvist’s load has shrunk considerably, as he played in 63 games in 2013-14 and just 46 this past season.

That 2014-15 number is of course marginally lower than the season prior due to a neck injury he sustained back in February of this year. Again though, it was Talbot who rose to the occasion and filled in masterfully in the absence of Lundqvist, finishing the season with a 21-9-4 record and a .926 save percentage.

To say that Talbot was a key reason the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy and had home ice advantage throughout this past postseason is a gross understatement.

Skapski Surgery

Another thing to take into consideration when talking about trading Cam Talbot is the fact that 20-year-old Mackenzie Skapski, presumably Talbot’s successor as Lundqvist’s backup who went 2-0 in both of his starts this season, recently underwent surgery for a labral tear in his right hip.

While Skapski is expected to make a full recovery, he will be sidelined for up to five months which would mean he wouldn’t be available for either the Wolf Pack (AHL) or the Rangers until late October or early November. That would leave the Blueshirts without a backup with capabilities that they are familiar with and trust, at least for the early going of next season.

Perhaps not a deciding factor in whether or not to trade Talbot, the recovery of Skapski is certainly something to keep tabs on before pulling the trigger on a possible deal involving Talbot.

A Trade May be Inevitable

Cam Talbot has been terrific for the Rangers over the past two seasons. He’s proven he can play both as a backup and as a starter as his stint during Lundqvist’s injury highlighted.

Talbot would also come at a very low cap hit of $1.45 million for the next season, giving whatever team may end up with him the opportunity to have a season at an affordable price to decide whether or not they want to keep him as their franchise goalie.

To get a goaltender of Talbot’s talent for that little money (at least for one season) could garner a pretty decent return. In the case of the Rangers, a team to which first round draft picks have become scarce in recent years, a first rounder in this year’s draft may just be that decent return.

When push comes to shove, dealing Cam Talbot this offseason may be inevitable for the Rangers, as getting something in return would be far better than getting nothing when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and commands more money next summer.

That doesn’t mean, though, that they shouldn’t at least think long and hard before pulling the trigger on any potential trade involving the best backup netminder the organization has seen in years.