This past offseason, the Ottawa Senators made a number of big moves that had many thinking they were playoff bound. The biggest of the bunch was a trade that saw Alex DeBrincat brought over from the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as the signing of free agent forward Claude Giroux. One other big move, which many thought would stabilize their crease, was the acquisition of Cam Talbot from the Minnesota Wild.
For years now, Talbot has been a reliable number-one goaltender when tasked with the role and even better when used in tandem. With that said, his first season with the Sens hasn’t gone as planned. He was first forced to miss the early part of the season due to injury, and since returning hasn’t been at his best with a 2.90 goals-against average (GAA), along with a .905 save percentage (SV%).
Due to Talbot’s struggles, as well as the team in general, it is unlikely they will look to bring him back next season, given that he is on an expiring contract. Therefore, he is being considered trade bait by many – even as he is currently dealing with a lower-body injury – because the Sens are well outside the playoff picture. With that said, here are three teams that serve as great fits for the veteran netminder.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights were a team listed as a possible destination for Karel Vejmelka, and the same holds here. This is a team that entered the season with relatively big expectations, though many questioned if their goaltending duo of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill would be able to make the timely saves their team would need to be successful.
Over the first few months of the season, they did just that. Thompson, in particular, was fantastic, as he quickly inserted himself into the Calder Trophy discussion, while also being named an NHL All-Star. However, his and Hill’s play has dipped as of late, and the team is beginning to slide down the standings, as a result.
With Mark Stone placed on long-term injured reserve due to undergoing back surgery, the Golden Knights will have cap space to make a move ahead of the deadline. If they choose to strengthen their goaltending position, Talbot may be the perfect fit. As mentioned, he has spent plenty of time in a near 50/50 tandem during his career and would provide great leadership to Thompson.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are currently the only team in a playoff position that has a negative goal differential at minus-10. It hasn’t been an offensive issue, either, as their 173 goals on the season are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for 10th in the league. Instead, it all comes down to their inability to keep the puck out of their own net.
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Their 183 goals against are the eighth worst in the NHL, ranking at the bottom amongst all teams in a playoff spot. Jonathan Quick’s resurgence from a season ago has quickly faded away, while Cal Petersen was put on waivers and placed in the American Hockey League months ago. They have since relied upon journeyman Pheonix Copley, who has a sparkling 15-3-1 record but appears due for some major regression given his otherwise underwhelming stat line.
If acquired by the Kings, Talbot would automatically move to the front of their depth chart and could end up giving what is otherwise a very talented roster a true shot at going on a playoff run come the spring. The organization is blessed with one of the NHL’s best prospect systems and could certainly afford to part ways with one in exchange for the 35-year-old netminder.
As far as starting goaltenders go, the Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the better ones in the league Tristan Jarry. Behind him, however, things get a little dicier. Casey DeSmith has been inconsistent at best this season, as his 3.23 GAA hasn’t exactly inspired the most confidence. Because of that, the Pens have reportedly kicked the tires on Talbot.
For Talbot’s sake, it’s unclear if this is a move he would welcome given that he would be used in a backup role behind Jarry. A similar situation ended up occurring last year with the Wild after they acquired Marc-Andre Fleury, a decision which reportedly didn’t thrill Talbot and resulted in him being shipped to the Sens in the offseason.
That said, at 35 years old, it is unclear how many more kicks at the can Talbot will get when it comes to chasing a Stanley Cup. While the Penguins aren’t being considered elite contenders at this point, it is simply impossible to count out a team captained by Sidney Crosby. If this deal were to occur, Pens fans could rejoice to know that if Jarry were to suffer another injury like the one he is currently dealing with, Talbot is more than capable of stepping up and serving as the team’s number one.
Talbot On the Mend
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Talbot himself is currently being listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That isn’t believed to be something that could scare teams off, however, as it is expected that he will be ready to return any day now. Assuming that is indeed the case, there are a number of teams around the NHL that could benefit from his services for the remainder of the season, though none seem to be better fits than the three discussed above.