91Cam Talbot
Photo Credit: Harrison Barden/USA Today Sports

What happened to Cam Talbot?

Way, way back in 2014-15, an injury to New York Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist pressed his backup into action. Cam Talbot proved more than up to the challenge, winning 21 games, posting five shutouts and finishing seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. Yet just four summers later, the Calgary Flames were able to buy low on the netminder – what happened?

In the summer of 2015, the Edmonton Oilers won a bidding war for Talbot – at the time signed to a very inexpensive extension for the 2015-16 season – that reportedly included the Flames, Sharks, Stars, Sabres and Panthers. The Rangers received three draft picks for Talbot, and the Oilers received a goaltender that seemed prime for an even bigger breakout.

For two seasons, Talbot was one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League. For three seasons, he was also the busiest. From 2015-18, Talbot led all NHL goaltenders in minutes played, shots against, high danger shots against, medium danger shots against and rebound shots against.

As you can see from this situational shot breakdown (broken down by the degree of danger), he saw a ton of rubber over his first three seasons with the Oilers.

Season Low Med High All
2015-16 577 357 250 1184
2016-17 685 457 477 1619
2017-18 673 423 464 1560
2018-19 356 194 214 764

Here’s the problem with goaltenders that play a lot: unless their attention to detail is excellent (or their goaltending coach keeps a sharp eye on their form), their technique can slip due to fatigue. The human body can only take so much repetitive strain, and the mental strain of remaining focused during the proverbial “live fire” of frequent game action can take a toll on a goalie’s ability to bounce back. The mental side of things is one reason why goalies can tend to be streaky, as a rough outing can lead to a negative feedback loop if they aren’t given the opportunity to reset.

Here’s a look at Talbot’s even strength save percentage against different types of shots: low danger, medium danger, high danger, and overall.

Season LoSv% MdSv% HiSv% Sv%
2015-16 96.9 92.4 77.6 92.0
2016-17 98.1 93.9 84.1 92.9
2017-18 97.5 91.3 82.1 91.7
2018-19 95.5 91.8 81.3 91.2

The 2016-17 season was his masterpiece, where he finished with some of the best numbers in the league and was fourth in Vezina Trophy voting. The cracks began to show a bit in the 2017-18 campaign, where his numbers across the board started leaking a bit – he was a little bit worse in every game situation, but not awful. The bottom fell out in 2018-19, his low danger numbers were tremendously mediocre, to the point where the Oilers sold him off for pennies on the dollar.

The situational save percentage numbers seem to support the “overwork lead to sloppy technique” theory. But on July 1, during his chat with the media, Flames general manager Brad Treliving explained why the club is confident that Talbot can bounce back:

…the people in our organization that know this spent a lot of time looking at Cam as well as some other goaltenders and felt some of the things technically that maybe he had some difficulties with, that those are fixable areas.

Talbot was lauded upon arrival in Edmonton as a positionally sound, low movement goaltender. Anecdotally, and via the data, the story appears to be that he strayed from what made him effective due to being played so damn much by the Oilers and not getting the chance to reel in some bad habits. The Flames’ bet seems to be that through a combination of working with Jordan Sigalet and playing significantly less than he did in Edmonton – we’re guessing somewhere around 30 games – that he can make (and maintain) adjustments to his game that get him closer to what he used to be.

Talbot received serious Vezina consideration twice in the past five seasons and doesn’t have a serious injury history. He’s got some mileage on his body, but much of that is concentrated over the past four seasons. He seems like a decent bet for a bounce-back – there’s no way he’s actually as bad as he looked last season – but it’s yet to be seen if he can put the work in to get all the way back to what he used to be.

The Flames certainly seem willing to take that bet, though.

  • b

    On a completely different topic, anyone have a feel for what it would take to pry Josh Anderson out of Colombus? He sounds like just what the Flames need, plus Colombus has the cap space to take on some salary. They don’t seem to need RD, but could Frolik+Picks or another forward do it?

    • Jobu

      No one wants to take on a 1 year contract unless they are for sure in the running (and they have the space).

      Frolik for 1 year is a downgrade on both the players you mention.

      At this point Frolik probably doesnt move anywhere unless its to a team that thinks they have a legit shot at a cup, or at the trade deadline when more teams believe the same.

      • b

        Thanks for the insight, clearly Frolik might not form part of the equation. Back to my original question do the Flames have any expendable assets either of those teams would want that could make those trades happen. Is the answer a hard no?

        • Speed Kills

          Interesting… Unfortunately for Columbus they really are the Edmonton of the Metropolitan Division, as in, Nobody really wants to play or stay there unless its an over-pay. So there is a good chance that Josh Anderson Wont be interested in resigning with Columbus long term, he also has Arbitration rights on his next RFA (next year). So I’d attack that issue as part of a selling point to Columbus with a trade offer.
          With the abandoning of all their UFA’s including in the goalie department, I think it is something Tre should look into.
          Eg: a 20 goal scoring Vet with Term, Yes… Neal would be in Columbus for a guaranteed 4 years~! With the belief that John Tortorella could get him back on track. + add in a youngish goalie Gillies and prospect ??? I don’t know maybe Ruzicka or the rights to Foo? Whatever tickles Jarmo Kekalainen’s fancy (within reason).
          Columbus is a prime candidate to dump players with term just so they have warm bodies under contract to play for them IMO…
          One can Dream….

    • freethe flames

      For either of your guys Anderson or Konecny it would probably require FRolik and a First just to start the conversation. Columbus is in an interesting position after using a lot of picks and then losing a lot of assets to FA.

  • Off the wall

    Here’s hoping Talbot was a good signing.

    Probably because the Oilers’ overuse anyone good, you’ll most likely see Talbot have a better season this year. The 16/17 season he started 73 games. The 17/18 season he started 67!

    If he gets 30 -35 starts, you most likely see improvement in his game.

    • With Respect

      No you won’t, he lets in the first shot more than any goalie in the league 2 years running. He is a super good guy but proven to be no better than a backup goalie which is fine if Rittich holds up his end.

  • Jobu

    Don’t forget the goalie equipment shrinkage!

    Jobu believes this is the primary reason for the decline. It affected a LOT of big body goaltenders in the past two years. Smith and Talbot included.

    • buts

      Jobu the hut smaller equipment is the same for all goalies but because it’s smaller a goalie needs to challenge to take away angles and make themselves bigger…..look at Fleury, it didn’t affect him because of his challenging of the shooter. Today’s goalie has too and Talbot will unless our goalie coaches screw him up and I read they want to they want Parson’s to not challenge to much…..I don’t know about Signalet he scares me.

      • Baalzamon

        I think you misread the thing about Parsons. They said they want him to be less aggressive which to me means they don’t want him to over-commit when moving side-to-side (which he is prone to doing).

        • everton fc

          Yep. If Parsons can play a more intellectual game – and can keep himself in the lineup, and healthy, he will improve.

          As for Talbot, I have a good vibe all of a sudden, for this signing.

          • Stockton's Finest

            One thing I noticed about Parsons is he relies on his glove a lot. He comes across his body sometimes with his glove instead of using his stick. I hope they are working with him to use his stick and blocker a little more.

        • Off the wall

          I agree Baalzamon. When you have to make spectacular saves, it’s usually due to being out of position, in the first place. I think that’s why these athletic goalies are having a harder time adjusting to the equipment and the need to be calmer in the crease.

      • oilcanboyd

        Talbot says he is going spend time with his old goalie coach this summer, which he says helped him tremendously before. Reading that the Flames think they can correct his technical issues…. Sigalet??

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I read that differently, I understood that they have been working with Parsons to not over commit or be too aggressive like he has a tendency to do. They want him to use less of his athleticism and quiet down his game with less movement. They have been showing him film of successful similar sized goalies like Raantana. Seems like good tactics. There is a good article on the Calgary Flames website.

    • oilcanboyd

      On an interview with Jason Gregor on TSN1260, Smith said that he was dealing with off-ice personal issues at the start of the season. He got his head straightened out during the All-Star break and played much better in the second half and was outstanding in the playoffs. If he stays healthy the Oilers could make the playoffs, although Koskinen is still a ??.

  • buts

    Talbot will challenge the shooter where Smith won’t and that’s a big difference and to me very important. An overpay with Mrazek and Lehner available but Talbot could end up being an asset.

    • Off the wall

      I don’t think Mrazek was overpaid, at $3.1M for two years? But that’s just me.

      If Talbot can garner $2.75M, which I think might be a overpay by $1M, then what happens if he has a good season?

      • wot96

        He goes and signs somewhere else ecause the flames can’t keep him. All the flames have done is overpaid him to get his career back on track.

        A statistically good year for him isn’t entirely unlikely given the defence in front of him is much better than Edmonton’s. But that won’t necessarily translate into playoff success either.

        • Kevin R

          If Talbot has a great year it will mean he has won more starts from BSD. If Talbot outshines BSD, I can see the Flames extending Talbot. This is a real big year for both of these goalies. If they can push each other, the Flames will be the winners with a pretty successful season & punching our ticket back into the playoffs.

  • wot96

    So he is going to get paid $33.5k a game whether or not he starts and he probably needs to start 30-35 games in order to straighten it out. And of course, with that number of games, he is a backup. Pure and simple. If he plays too many more, he may fall apart, like he did previously.

    Rittich on the other hand, is going to start 50 games barring injury. He is a starter, because Cam can’t play too much or he won’t perform. At least, he may not get his game back to where it needs to be. So why should Rittich play for one cent less than Cam? He is a starter, by default at worst, and his game doesn’t need fixing.

    I don’t think this article makes me like the signing any more. The opposite, actually.

  • The Flaming C

    A different topic but I think that maybe the reason Kadri declined a trade to Calgary was because he wanted to stay a Leaf so he loaded his NTC with teams he thought would be interested in him. i.e. Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, etc.

  • Flameon13

    Random trade thought, but what about a deal moving Monny & Fro to Dallas for Seguin. Both come at roughly the same cap hit (Monny and Fro a lil more), both Monny and Seguin are generally good for 30-odd goals, Frolik offers depth scoring and pk experience and can fit in on Dallas’ second or third line, it saves us 1mill the year in cap and then next season when Frolik is off the books Dallas would have freed up 4.3mill in cap space to use elsewhere (ex: a Heiskanen extension and go after a good ufa with the leftover cap) while maintaining a 30 goal scorer at a cheaper cap hit in Monny than Seguin. Meanwhile we get a fast skating first line center who is still fairly young and takes some of the focus off of Johnny when he is on the ice. Just a passing though for a creative way to move Frolik, save money the year and upgrade our center position.

    • everton fc

      No. Seguin has issues. He’s not like Gio, character-wise. We need character guys here – character guys who can skate, have a little grittiness to their game… Who have good hands, are committed to forechecking and backchecking… And so on. So, “No”, to Seguin.

      • Off the wall

        Speaking of that. Rumours, are that Florida may possibly be looking to move Hoffman.
        Just over $5M for another year (M- NTC) Plays both wings.

        Would you take a flyer on him, for Brodie + 2nd or 3round pick?(assuming he says yes)

          • Off the wall

            Kevin, since we’re fantasizing, how about Ehlers? Gaudreau can play RW, Ehlers on LW( he is so good at carrying play as well) centre’d by Monahan!

            Trade Brodie, Jankowski and a pick to the Jets?

          • Speed Kills

            Honestly, I could see a Monahan & Hamonic, + going to the Jets for Scheifele + Roslovic? or Niku? or something like that… Jets should be seriously looking at acquiring Hamonic from the Flames as I’m pretty sure he would be willing to take a Home Team Discount to play in the Peg after this contract is done. What would the Flames want back is the question?

          • Kevin R

            Yeah I know some wishful thinking sometimes…haha…. compared to some of these threads, sometimes I would rather read pie in the sky wishful thinking. :->

            OTW I think Ehlers would be on the table & that would be interesting to score that kid.

          • Man yells at cloud

            Goodness gracious Kevin. Did I miss the press release? Did Chia hire on in the winterpeg? That trade proposal right there would automatically get BT uninvited to all future GM beer and burger and three legged race family picnics. I’m not sure where ya think those three are worth Lainne and where to you find the dinero to pay Lianne when they already got their behinds stapled to the cap roof. I have heard some crazy proposals on this here page but that one takes the Tang because it’s way out in outer space.
            Now get off my lawn!

          • Kevin R

            Well Jets are up against the Cap & Chevy seems to be getting bent over on trades lately. & I did say it was pie in the sky.
            So before I get off your lawn, Im going to take a dump on it first.

      • Flameon13

        I heard he had character issues and that being a reason why he was moved out of Boston, but haven’t heard that if it was still the case all these years later

    • Garry T

      Flameon13. I really like your thought process on this one. Seguin would be your partner for Johnny and Lindholm. Others think you would have to give more in the deal. Perhaps a good deal for Dallas would be Tkachuk and I think they would look at Chucky favourably. This trade gives us a true number 1 scoring center and resolves our commitment to $8-10 mil we do not have. Seguin would be around for a goodly period of time. The big money not going to Chucky would be dollars that could be used to sign our RFAS. Making this trade would allow us to use Monahan as the number two centre, Ryan as the 3 and Jankowski as 4. We could then convert a left winger to right or move Kylington up to the forward position. We could then review our personnel and perhaps move one or two guys for rounds 3-5 further increasing our CAP. Great Idea. Keep it Up!

      • Flameon13

        Thanks and though the Chucky for Seguin idea is a good one as well but Seguins current contract is more than what I would expect Chucky’s new contract to be so we wouldn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room unless we also moved Brodie and bought out Stone inorder to sign our remaining RFAs but I do like how our center depth would look

  • freethe flames

    Just came home from development camp. I only saw the second group again. Lots of drills, today we got to see the goalies; I really like the Russian goalies rebound control. Yelesen really understand his center of gravity and used in well in a couple of the competitive drills. Phillips turn van der Leest inside out on 1 on 1 drill but over all I thought the big kid did pretty well. One guy who I knew nothing about, saw his yesterday in the skating drills caught my attention today was Montana Onyebushi; big 6’1 210 RHD did some nice things and finished a few checks along the boards in some of the competitive drills. That’s my report for today.

      • freethe flames

        JJF; Wolfe and Parsons were coming of the ice as I arrived. Petterson is also in the first group. So again I am of no help to you. I thought that they flipped the groups around from day 1 to 2 but that is probably tomorrow. I have another commitment tomorrow morning so I won’t see them again until the scrimmage.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          FTF: someone posted a couple of clips of Wolf on CP. The drill had players coming of the wing down low and the first player was Gawdin with a filthy through the legs back hander to the top shelf….welcome to camp kid!!

          Of course this was enough to get some posters to proclaim that 18 year old Wolf is a bust…got to love some fans.

    • oilcanboyd

      On prospect websites MONTANA ONYEBUCHI is listed as 6’3″ 205, “No doubt of his massive physical presence. Age 19. “A hockey player: fire in his heart, ice in his veins …”
      – Author unknown

    • everton fc

      I hope we sign Onyebuchi. He has the type of “truculence” we could use. He can also fight – Youtube has multiple scraps with this kid going against guys 6’4″, 6’6″, 6’7″ (he’s listed at 6’3″/210lbs – and is 19) and he handles them all.

      If he can skate…

  • freethe flames

    How is working with Sigalet going to help Talbot? How many goalies have thrived under his coaching? There was just an article about all the goalies we have tried since he has been here. Who did he make better? The best news is that he going to spen his summer with his own coach who probably works on his strengths first(regain his confidence) and then works on his weaknesses. All I have seen so far is that he makes big goalies look small.

  • Albertabeef

    The western conference standings top 8 teams from the allstar game onward for perspective.
    STL 50pts
    CHI 39pts
    DAL 39pts
    COL 38pts
    SJ 26pts
    NASH 36pts
    CAL 36pts
    ARI 36pts
    Funny but all the top 4 on this list who made the playoffs all won their first round series and the top team taking the cup.

  • Derian Hatcher

    I saw Talbot play a lot (obviously)and here is my opinion for what it’s worth. First of all, he such a classy guy and great in the community. He took a lot of heat here – and admittedly, he let in some softies. However, when the pourous Oiler defense let’s the oppostition snipers constantly walk right down main street and fire away, it does not help your goaltender. I have not looked up the stat, but the Oilers allowed way too many high danger chances, especially at the start of games. Add to that the terrible Oiler PK and Talbot not stealing many games, his resulting numbers were not good. As I said, he did let in some stinkers, but I like the guy and hope he does well with the Flames (not too well though) –

    Funny though, I have never been a fan of Mike Smith, no matter what team he has played on, and now I hope he does well for the Oilers. Sports…where you can hate a player one day, and love him the next (except for that rat Kadri, but that’s a whole other rant).

    • Kevin R

      Thanks Derian! Smith let some stinkers in too, but what goalies dont. It’s funny, but I think Smith is going to be a benefit for your backend, just buy yourself extra Maalox & Tums at the start of the year because his wanderings & puck giveaways are going to give you heartburn on some nights that’s for sure. Funny thing, last year in January, I was actually thinking that we trade these two guys to try & give them fresh starts. But I doubt our teams do much of a meaningful trade anytime soon. I think many will be pleasantly surprised with Talbot this year. The media hype before games is going to be something else eh.

    • Albertabeef

      With Talbot I always thought his big bulky pads masked how bad he actually was. Smitty is way older but relies more on athleticism and he’s still just slightly better than Talbot that way. Just in my opinion. Worst thing about Smitty is he is so close to retirement that his down hill ride may be steeper than Talbot. But I am just trying to accept the fact I’m stuck with Talbot for the next year, unless we Ediie Lack him to the AHL if he stinks. I hope Talbot bounces back and trying not to listen to my gut.

  • Man yells at cloud

    What happened to Cam Talbot? Well I’m not rocket scientist and my mind dont serve as well as it once did but I can start with two simple words. Oilers-Flyers. I am not gonna pull all the numbers, but my head be telling me that those two team ain’t exactly defensive juggernauts. Talbot should be able to stand tall once again with a fairly good defensive crop at his aid. Now the genius team be the Blackhawks this year. $5 million for a goalie that can either get ya to the dance or be traded at the deadline for a pretty penny draft choice.
    Now get off my lawn!