Cam Talbot’s show-me season in Calgary went according to plan. The Flames got excellent value for their backup goaltender and Talbot showed the league that he can still play.
Now Talbot is looking for an opportunity to be a No. 1 goaltender again. And that may or may not be with the Flames.
“I wouldn’t rule out coming back, but, obviously, my goal coming here was to show the rest of the League that I still have it in me to be a starting goalie and I think I accomplished that,” Talbot told Sportsnet. “I knew that if I came to camp healthy and in the right situation, I was confident I was going to be able to get back to that form.I think I played through some stuff that maybe I shouldn’t have played through the year before, and toward the end of the year before that, so that had a lot of mitigating factors behind my declining play those years. But I think my record shows that when I’m healthy and on top of my game I can be one of the best in the league.”
After putting up a Vezina Trophy-calibre season in Edmonton in 2016-17 that was key in helping the team end their massive playoff drought, Talbot fell flat. He posted a .908 save percentage in 2017-18 and a .893 save percentage in 2018-19, ultimately losing the starting gig to Mikko Koskinen. Talbot was traded ahead of the 2019 trade deadline to Philadelphia where he would appear in just four games.
The Flames opted to let Mike Smith walk in free agency and gave Talbot the opportunity to rebound in a backup role. The plan worked perfectly. Talbot posted a .919 save percentage in 26 games for the Flames this season and you could argue that he was establishing himself as the team’s No. 1 goaltender heading down the stretch.
This summer (or fall, depending on how the NHL’s calendar ends up working out in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic) Talbot will hit the open market, this time with a strong season behind him. The Flames have a handful of other free agents to deal with, including T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic, and they’re staring at the likely reality of a flat salary cap next season, so bringing Talbot back might not be in the cards.
Talbot said that he’s loved his time in Calgary and that he has a great relationship with Rittich and goalie coach Jordan Sigalet, so a return isn’t totally out of the picture. But Talbot’s top priority is finding a situation in which he can be a team’s No. 1 guy again.