Friday: Dreger reiterated today that the Flyers and Oilers continue to talk of a Talbot trade. He claims the two sides are in a “holding pattern” and are trying to work out the kinks. The biggest new piece of news is that Stolarz, Philly’s impending RFA goaltender, is expected to be a piece of the return for Edmonton. Stolarz would presumably take over the backup job behind Koskinen this season, fitting under the salary cap without issue, and then challenge for the job again next year.
Thursday: The Philadelphia Flyers have already used seven goalies this season, so why not make it eight? According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers are “definitely talking” about a Cam Talbot trade. The 31-year-old keeper is an impending free agent and known to be at the top of the Oilers’ deadline sale list, while the Flyers are not exactly looking for short-term help, but a long-term tandem option.
Were these talks purely for the purpose of Philadelphia using Talbot as a rental, they wouldn’t make much sense. The Flyers are eight points back of the rival Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card slot in the Eastern Conference and would have to leapfrog the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres to get there. The team is also already carrying three goaltenders – Carter Hart, Anthony Stolarz, and Mike McKenna – and has season-opening starter Brian Elliott on a conditioning stint. As it is, the team is probably going to have to place McKenna on waivers when Elliott is ready to return. They also have Alex Lyon in the minors and could get Michal Neuvirth back from injury by the end of the year.
The Flyers don’t need a goalie right now; what they do need is a goalie for the future. The rookie Hart has been phenomenal at just 20 years old and is a core piece in Philly moving forward, but he needs a reliable veteran presence for the next few years as well. Elliott and Neuvirth (and McKenna) are all unrestricted free agents and Stolarz is an RFA with an injury history. The Flyers were destined to bring in a new goalie for next season and beyond and have apparently tabbed Talbot as a top option. Dreger notes that Talbot and Hart already share a good relationship, making it an ideal pairing of a promising young goalie in need of a mentor and a capable veteran who can no longer support a full work load. Talbot initially arrived in Edmonton after a breakout year as the backup for the New York Rangers, but truly broke out as a Vezina candidate in 2016-17 with a .919 save percentage and 2.37 GAA in 73 games. It would be the first of back-to-back seasons in which Talbot would lead the NHL in games played and this season he has felt the effects of being overworked. Talbot has an .893 save percentage and 3.36 GAA on the year, much of the reason why he lost out on an extension to backup Mikko Koskinen. Talbot needs a new home moving forward, and preferably one with a share in net, but there are questions about how much interest he will garner on the free agent market. Philadelphia appears to be the ideal landing spot, especially if he gets to play there before the end of the season. The Flyers would also benefit from an early opportunity to sign Talbot, rather than just waiting for free agency.
As for the Oilers, there is no hiding the fact that Edmonton is struggling to manage the cap and their roster right now. The team needs to make room for defenseman Andrej Sekera, but need to clear cap space and a roster spot to do so and have only through this weekend to figure it out. Trading Talbot, who the team has already determined is not a long-term fit, would be the easiest way to accommodate Sekera, which explains why trade talks are heating up. What the return will be for the veteran netminder remains to be seen. Since the Flyers could just wait until the off-season to sign Talbot, it likely won’t be impressive. However, with the Oilers maintaining that they are a buyer at the deadline, it will be interesting to see if Elliot or another Flyers goalie ends up as part of a hypothetical package. Edmonton’s odds at the postseason are slim, but asking Koskinen to start nearly every game down the stretch backed up by Al Montoya or unproven Shane Starrett certainly won’t help.