The Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year extension on Sunday.
TSN is reporting the contract is worth $12.5 million, which would carry a $4.17 million cap hit. Talbot was due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015-2016 season when his $1.45 million contract, originally signed with the New York Rangers, expired. Talbot is now signed through the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Talbot struggled early on in the season with Edmonton but has rebounded admirably of late. He has a .941 save percentage in his last ten games, and he is 8-13-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 26 games this season.
Talbot was one of the prized goaltenders of this past offseason after going 21-9-4 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 36 games for the Rangers last season, including a 16-4-3 run that kept the Rangers in the playoffs when Henrik Lundqvist went down with a vascular injury. Talbot was acquired by the Oilers at the draft; the Oilers received Talbot and a seventh-round pick (209) from New York in exchange for three draft picks (57, 79, 184).
Though some might question the timing of this extension, general manager Peter Chiarelli was quite confident in the move and in the goalie.
“I really felt his game is where it’s at and where we can place some reliance and faith in him as a goalie,” Chiarelli said in an interview.
Chiarelli explained that he has been impressed with Talbot’s stellar play of late but also with how Talbot worked through the difficult stretches earlier on in the season.
“At the start of the year he had a down stretch, and what really impressed me about [Talbot] is he was able to work through it,” Chiarelli said. “I saw his practices, I saw him working on a number of different things. He wasn’t playing; to be a number one goalie you have to have the demeanor, you have to have the resiliency, the mental toughness to get through those gaps.”
Talbot was equally thrilled about the extension.
“I’m extremely excited to be a part of this team for the next 3-plus years,” Talbot said in an interview. “It’s an exciting time to be in Edmonton with the new arena and stuff coming in, and obviously with the players we have on this team right now. … I’m lucky to be a part of it.”
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 18, 2016
Only time will tell if this extension was finalized too early on in the season. Talbot’s performance in New York last season behind a much more defensively sound team than the Oilers is hardly enough evidence to warrant an extension; similarly, Talbot’s inconsistent play this season is another factor that makes this move slightly puzzling. For example, his undisciplined play earlier on in the season cost the Oilers at least a few games; his inability or unwillingness to adequately cover the corners and hug the post led to late third-period goals the Oilers could not overcome. That type of play will not be tolerated, no matter how much a player makes.
To play devil’s advocate, Talbot has played very well over the past ten or so games, giving the Oilers a chance to win each game and battling to keep each game close. At the same time, he played poorly early on in the season. Anders Nilsson was the go-to starter for the Oilers for a huge stretch of games, and Talbot wasn’t even playing regularly enough for the coaches to consider letting him start against the Rangers, his former team.
It’s clear that Talbot is resilient, and he has shown a lot of poise over the past several games. The contract is relatively reasonable and is comparable to other goalies in similar positions. For example, the Philadelphia Flyers gave Steve Mason a three-year extension for $12.3 million in January of 2014. He had been with the team for a longer period of time, but he had not yet proven himself in the playoffs and had been inconsistent.
It’s possible that the Oilers feel confident with Talbot moving forward and wanted to take care of the extension before it could possibly become a distraction. On the other hand, it’s also quite possible the Oilers wanted to solidify Talbot’s contract to get a better idea of the team’s cap situation moving forward. This would make sense considering the trade deadline is fast approaching.
Whatever the case may be, Cam Talbot appears to be the number one goalie in Edmonton moving forward. There’s always the possibility that his inconsistency could resurface, but management must believe he will be able to push through it as he did earlier this season. After all, this extension comes a few days after this incredible glove save.
It will be interesting to see if the Oilers do, in fact, pull the trigger on a major deal now that the team has secured a starting goalie for the next few years. At the end of the day, this is a reasonable contract that will not bring any distraction to the locker room later on in the season, so perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise for the Oilers after all.
Featured Image Credit: Kevin Light-InGoal Magazine