Veteran goaltender Cam Talbot enters his first season with the Senators in good spirits
Cam Talbot, a proven goaltender who has a solid track record in the NHL, was traded to the Ottawa Senators on July 12th for Fillip Gustavsson, one-for-one. It was a day after the team traded away Matt Murray and this now allows the Senators to run a tandem of Talbot and Anton Forsberg, two solid veteran goaltenders.
Talbot is currently 35 years old and was undrafted before signing with the New York Rangers in 2010. He bounced between the NHL and AHL in the next three seasons before impressing in the 2013-14 regular season with a save percentage of .941 in 21 games. As a result, he stuck around for the playoffs as well, playing in two games as a relief to Henrik Lundquivst during the Rangers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. The next season, he played in 15 more games compared to the year prior and managed to put up decent numbers with 21 wins and a save percentage higher than Lundquivst with .926. His contributions helped his team win the President’s trophy, however, Talbot did not play in the playoffs as his team fell short once again, this time in the conference finals, losing in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Playing as a full-time starter for the Edmonton Oilers
That off-season, in 2016, Talbot was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks where he became their starting goaltender. His save percentage dropped from the year prior to .917, which was decent but not good enough to help his team to the playoffs. However, as a result of his efforts, he made team Canada in the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He helped lead his team to a gold medal, finishing the tournament with a save percentage of .940 (side note: four former Senators played on that team). The next season, he backed the Oilers to the playoffs, playing in 73 games (tied for 25th all-time in games played in a single season), with hart-trophy winner Connor Mcdavid leading the way. On top of playing the most games among goaltenders that season, he also led the league in wins, with 42. In the playoffs, Talbot played in all 13 games and had a .924 save percentage as the Oilers lost in the second round to the Anaheim Ducks. In the next two seasons, Talbot wasn’t able to replicate that success as his save percentage progressively dropped, and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2019 as a result.
Playing for three different teams in four seasons
His time on the Flyers was short as he only played in four games, where he put up less than mediocre numbers, before leaving the team in 2019 as a free agent. He signed with the Calgary Flames for one year and played in 26 games as he served as a back-up for David Rittich. He was decent in the playoffs where he played in 10 games, putting up a respectable .924 save percentage before bowing out to the Dallas Stars, the eventual Stanley Cup finalists. Like the season prior, he tested free agency and inked a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. The 2020-21 season was shortened as Talbot took over the reins as a starter once again. He helped his team to the playoffs, where they lost to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in seven games, despite Talbot putting up a save percentage of .923. During that series, he had two shutouts and three quality starts. He started the next season as a starter and played decently enough to be selected as the all-star representative for the Central Division. After the mid-season acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury, Talbot wasn’t relied on as much as there was a more consistent rotation among the two netminders. In the playoffs, Talbot didn’t get a chance to prove himself until game six, when the team was down three to one in the playoffs, and it ended up being a poor outing from him as he allowed four goals.
Trade to the Ottawa Senators
During this off-season, in 2022, Minnesota Wild elected to sign Fleury making Talbot expendable and consequently being traded to the Senators on July 12th. Talbot had a cap hit of $3.7 million, with one year remaining on the three-year deal he signed when he played for the Wild. Last season, four goaltenders played for the Senators, and Forsberg played the most with 46 games. The goaltenders who played the second and third most games, Murray and Gustavsson, were both traded. This means that Forsberg and Talbot will be tasked to share the crease, likely as a 1A/1B goaltending tandem. Mads Sogaard will likely be called up a few times throughout the season to get some NHL reps in.
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Analytics of the past three seasons
In the 2019-20 season, Talbot played with the Flames and had a .919 save percentage in the regular season which ranked him 13th league-wide. At 5v5, he had a .924 save percentage ranking him 19th. In terms of the quality of shots he faced, xGA/60, he also ranked 19th, despite not facing many High Danger Shots Against (HDSA)/60 relative to other goaltenders in the league, in which he faced the fifth least in the league. The reason his xGA/60 was in the middle of the pack was due to the number of Middle Danger Shots Against (MDSA)/60 he faced, in which he ranked at the top. Despite the low number of HDSA/60, he ranked 18th last in the league in terms of HDSV% (High Danger Save Percentage). As a result, his GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected)/60 ranked 46th in the league despite both his MDSV% and LDSV% being around the middle among goaltenders. When his team was shorthanded, Talbot allowed 11 goals in a short sample (87 minutes), giving him a save percentage of .888, ranking him 21st. Furthermore, when his team was on the Power Play, he allowed a goal despite another small sample, giving him a save percentage of .875. Despite his efforts at 5v5, his special team save percentage dragged him down, and his WAR, or Wins Above Expected, ranked 33rd in the league.
In the 2020-21 season, Talbot played with the Wild and overall had a worse save percentage compared to the year before, with it being .915. His save percentage at 5v5 was also worse and ranked 11th in the league. This is despite the fact that there was a decrease in shot quality his team allowed, with the xGA/60 ranking 27th in the league. Like the season before, he finished bottom five in terms of HDSA/60. However, what differed was that he faced the fifth highest LDSA/60 and a mediocre MDSA/60. Despite not facing many High Danger shots, he ranked towards the middle in terms of HDSV%. He ranked around the same in terms of MDSV% and top 10 in LDSV%. His efforts made his GSAx/60 positive and higher than the previous season, ranking him 17th. Compared to last season, his save percentage when his team was on the Power Play increased while his Short Handed save percentage stayed the exact same. Despite all that, his WAR stayed negative albeit ranking 17th, higher than the season before.
And finally, this past season where he played with the Wild again and posted a .911 save percentage –– lower than the past two seasons. Both his even-strength and short-handed save percentage declined while his power-play save percentage increased. It is interesting to see that his 5v5 save percentage dropped once again despite a decrease in the shot quality: he faced the third easiest shot quality based on xGA/60. The reason for having a mediocre save percentage is largely in part due to his HDSV% which ranked the 13th worst in the league. This was despite finishing in the top 20 in LDSV% and 22nd in MDSV%. Not saving high-danger chances frequently is reflected in the GSAx/60 stat as well, in which Talbot was a negative and ranked 46th in the league, one spot higher compared to the goaltender he shared the crease with Fleury. Overall, Talbot had a negative WAR and ranked 39th in the league. In comparison, Forsberg ranked 14th.
The above stats were among goalies that played at least 1000 minutes.
What Talbot brings to the Senators
One big thing he brings to the team is experience. He played on a team that won a President’s trophy and played on various teams that made runs, both big and small, in the playoffs. Most notably, he played on the Ranger’s team that made the Stanley Cup finals. Furthermore, when he was starting out in the NHL, he served as an understudy to the legendary Lundquivst (who was remarkably consistent unlike a lot of other goaltenders in his generation, more on this is briefly mentioned in this article). He probably learned a thing or two and was able to put it into effect in his NHL career. He can potentially be a good mentor to young goaltending prospects such as Sogaard and Mandolese.
Secondly, he brings stability to the net. Despite a decrease in save percentage over the past three seasons despite an easier workload in terms of xGA/60, his save percentage has ranged between .911 and .919, which is solid. It is also important to note that the number of games he played has increased in each of his past three seasons. One thing Talbot will need to improve, especially behind a Senators defence that frequently allows chances (8th most in terms of xGA/60 last season), is saving high-danger chances. He could potentially learn a tip from Forsberg who was in the top 15 in terms of HDSV%. Other ways Talbot could potentially find success is if the team acquires another solid top 4 defenceman or find other ways to improve defensively.