The Calgary Flames are ever looking forward to the future, and that includes goaltending. They had a pretty decent tandem this past season, and there are a couple of good prospects still waiting in the wings, but the future is ever-uncertain, and the Flames are pulling out all the stops when it comes to shoring themselves up in net.
That includes inquiring about the New York Rangers' backup goalie from this past season - and starter for almost all of February and March when Henrik Lundqvist went down - Cam Talbot.
Cam Talbot is a hot commodity. Edmtn, Cgy, SJ, Dallas + Florida have expressed interest. Multiple trade offers. First 3 most likely targets.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 18, 2015
Talbot is 27 years old, though he'll be 28 by the time next season starts. He's a year younger than Karri Ramo, who is set to become an unrestricted free gent, and five years younger than Jonas Hiller, who still has one year left on his contract at $4.5 million.
Talbot is signed for one more year to a $1.45 million contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Last season, as both backup and starter, he posted a .926 save percentage, good for fourth in the league among goaltenders with at least 30 games played. (He played 36 in total.) At even strength, his save percentage was .931, dropping down to ninth best from the 2014-15 season. He had five shutouts.
It should be stressed that he posted the numbers he did with the President's Trophy-winning Rangers, a far, far better team than everyone else in on him. Do you think he would replicate those numbers behind a defence core in which Deryk Engelland spent more than a quarter of the season in the top four?
The other major concern here is: just how much is it going to cost to acquire Talbot?
If it's a lot, the Flames should walk away. Talbot is still a relatively unknown commodity with only two months' worth of NHL starting experience. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers, who decided to roll into this past season with Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens - two backups - as starters, and see how well that went. (Hint: it went incredibly poorly. No surprise to see them chasing another backup.)
Talbot could be a worthy pickup, but only if he comes at a reasonable deal. Consider that the other two top candidates, the Oilers and the San Jose Sharks, don't have goalies in place for next season. The Oilers are a team full of backups, and Antti Niemi is approaching unrestricted free agency. They need a goalie more than the Flames do, since the Flames already have Hiller who, it must be reminded, was a more than capable starter, even if he is 33.
At this point in time, Calgary is looking to go into the 2015-16 season with Hiller as their starter and rookie Joni Ortio as backup, while Jon Gillies cuts his professional teeth in the AHL. The Flames aren't swimming in goaltending options, but what they have doesn't justify spending big on a backup.
If they want more goaltending options, it may be more prudent to look to the open market. Niemi, along with guys like Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, and even Devan Dubnyk, can be had on the open market, without anyone having to give up any assets.
If Talbot can be acquired for not too much, then great, the Flames should go for him, because why not? If, however, this turns into a bidding war, they need to respectfully back off, because there's no justification for this team to spend big on what is currently a largely unproven backup.