126Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

The ‘trade’ is one-for-one: Flames and Oilers swap UFA goalies

When the regular season ended and the free agency class began to take shape, you could be forgiven if you chuckled at the possibility of the Calgary Flames signing Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers signing Mike Smith. Neither guy set the world on fire in their prior spots, so switching spots would be pretty wacky.

Well, it looks like that’s actually happening.

Smith turned 37 in March and had a rough go of things in Calgary following a lower body injury he suffered in mid-February 2018. That led to him losing the starting job to backup David Rittich, who cemented himself in that job with a strong first half of the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury on Dec. 31 that he valiantly tried to work through.

As also reported by our pal Pat Steinberg, Rittich will be goaltending buddies with Talbot. Talbot is five years younger than Smith – he turns 32 on July 5 – and doesn’t really have the same mileage on his body that Smith has. We’ll dig into Talbot’s underlyings in more detail in the coming days, but he’s going from playing on a fairly defensively porous team to playing on one with several promising young players and the reigning Norris Trophy winner so it’s reasonable to hope that his numbers will bounce back from his rough final season split between Edmonton and the Philadelphia Flyers. Talbot is technically Flyers property, but he was Edmonton’s big foundational goaltending acquisition several seasons back while the Flames went with a series of half-measures in net.

Per Steinberg, the cap hit for Talbot is expected to be around $2.5 million for the 2019-20 season.

While the Flames and Oilers aren’t actually trading their netminders so to speak, this free agent swap might be the first wacky shoe to drop in what could be a pretty interesting opening to the free agent season in the National Hockey League.

  • Pizzaman

    If Smith hadn’t had a great playoff run ie: we would have lost to Nathan McKinnon by even more goals, then Nobody would be taking about Smith staying. Who is likely to be more consistent as a 1b goalie? Clearly Talbot. Good defenseman make for good goalies.

  • Mitchell

    Hopefully it’s only for a year at that cap, and that he bounces back. However, talbot posted some terrible numbers last year (behind bad defensive groups), and is going to be 32. Rittich should get the majority of starts barring any injuries. In short, this signing has the potential to be very good or absolutely horrible.

  • Albertabeef

    It really shocks me. So many people were so happy to get rid of Smitty. Now everyone is excited because we are most likely going to sign a guy who had an even worse save percentage. On top of that this guy was an Oiler at the start of last season. Am I to expect the Apocalypse now? Should I run and hide in a bomb shelter? This just feels weird.

    Mikko Koskinen EDM .906 2.93
    Cam Talbot EDM/PHI .892 3.40
    Brian Elliott PHI .907 2.96

    Don’t know how much you can say the team in front of him was bad when other “bad” goalies on the team fared better than him. Elliott is a better goalie and we need a better goalie than Elliott.

  • Flint

    Cam Talbot @ 2,5mil is not a shrewd signing. He’s been objectively bad for years.

    It should be something like Smith’s contract, but cheaper. ~1,5 with signing bonuses.

    I don’t want Cam Talbot in a Flames jersey for 2,5 million, thank you.

  • Kzak

    Great signing for the Flames. Minimal commitment, low cost, and had great numbers just a couple of years ago, we just need to find the cure to his lost confidence due to Edmontonitis. Could turn out to be a multi-year solution.

  • PlayitagainSam

    If it wasn’t for Smith Calgary would have been blown out even more than they were.
    The whole team laid down and died . Smith and Bennett were the only ones to show any heart in that playoff series and Smith was definitely Calgary’s best player.