Anthony Stolarz

Why Flyers traded Anthony Stolarz to Oilers for Cam Talbot

Why Flyers traded Anthony Stolarz to Oilers for Cam Talbot

Here comes number eight.

The Flyers acquired Cam Talbot in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers late Friday night in exchange for Anthony Stolarz, the Flyers' 2012 second-round selection (see story).

The move means at some point the Flyers will become the first team in NHL history to start eight different goaltenders in one season after tying the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques on Dec. 18.

There’s a good chance Talbot could make his Flyers debut Sunday in Detroit as interim head coach Scott Gordon stated Thursday he was uncertain who would start that game. 

Here are some important questions surrounding general manager Chuck Fletcher’s latest move.

Why trade Stolarz?

Here’s the perplexing question perhaps on the minds of many who were hoping for a Carter Hart-Anthony Stolarz duo next season. The Flyers feel they need a solid veteran who can start next season alongside Hart.

As well as Stolarz has played, he’s still very raw and limited when it comes to NHL experience (just 19 games). Plus, there’s still some internal concern regarding his health. Stolarz has required knee surgery twice over the past 18 months, and sustained another lower-body injury this season that kept him out of action for six weeks.

Even if the Flyers valued Stolarz, he’s a restricted free agent following this season and would need to clear waivers just to be assigned to the Phantoms next season. Sensing a team would likely claim him to start the season (much like the Flyers did with Calvin Pickard), Stolarz became expendable.

Unfortunately, you just can’t keep everyone and this gives Stolarz a great opportunity moving forward in Edmonton.

Why acquire Talbot?

As we mentioned the other day, Talbot has experience as a starter with the Oilers and a backup with the New York Rangers. He led the NHL with 140 starts from 2015-17 while backstopping the Oilers to the playoffs in 2016-17.

What’s very important is that he has a strong relationship with Hart after the two goaltenders worked together this past summer. Talbot will know exactly what his role is moving forward.

“We partnered up and took the ice for goalie sessions this summer,” Hart said this month. “He’s a great mentor, he’s a good guy, a great goalie. He’s the guy I called before my first start to ask about pregame jitters and what to expect.” 

Will they re-sign Talbot?

In all likelihood, yes. Consider the final 25 regular-season games somewhat of a trial run for Talbot. The Flyers want a firsthand look at how Talbot fits in with his new team, and is he still capable of winning games and playing well?

Plus, Talbot needs to make his own determination of whether he wants to stay in Philadelphia or test the free-agent market this summer. I would expect the Flyers to offer a two-year contract in the $2.5-3.5 million range, which would be perfect as Hart still has two years remaining on his entry-level deal.

What's the next move?

Well, the Flyers won’t carry four goaltenders on the roster, that’s for certain. Once Brian Elliott is ready to return to Philadelphia following his conditioning stint with the Phantoms, expect Mike McKenna to be placed on waivers, and if he clears, to be sent down to the Phantoms.

However, for Saturday’s game against the Red Wings, McKenna will serve as the backup to Hart.

Interesting tidbit

Talbot’s first NHL start came against the Flyers on Oct. 24, 2013 — a 2-1 loss. However, his first NHL win was a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings in his next start. Hart’s first NHL win was also a 3-2 victory against those same Red Wings.

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Flyers acquire Cam Talbot from Oilers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz

Flyers acquire Cam Talbot from Oilers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz

There's another goalie in the picture for the Flyers.

The team acquired Cam Talbot from the Edmonton Oilers late Friday night in exchange for Anthony Stolarz.

In 284 NHL games, the 31-year-old Talbot has 137 wins, a 2.59 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

He has a great relationship with rookie sensation Carter Hart.

"He's actually the guy that I called the night before my first game," Hart said before facing his hometown Oilers earlier this month. “Just to ask him a couple questions a little bit, get some knowledge from him. He's been a guy who has texted me every now and then throughout the season to see how I'm doing and he's a really good guy."

Talbot put together a superb 2016-17 season in which he went 42-22-8 with a 2.39 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and seven shutouts.

Stolarz, a second-round pick in 2012, has a 4-3-3 record this season with a .902 save percentage and a 3.33 goals-against average.

The 25-year-old played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests last season because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. He has been through a ton with injuries.

"The biggest thing was mentally," Stolarz said in September about overcoming his injuries. "You get hurt right around training camp, you're obviously going to be a little upset, a little depressed. At first, it kind of took its toll seeing guys going back down to Allentown, guys making the big club. But I had a great support staff, my family, my teammates, Jimmy McCrossin, Sal Raffa, I worked with Jarrod Spencer, the mental coach with the Phantoms.

"I tried to take the positives out of that, too, I went to a ton of Flyers games, I was able to watch some very good goalies — Carey Price, Pekka Rinne, guys that have made their mark. I was able to take things from their game and try to incorporate into mine when I got back. This is what I work for."

Stolarz, who is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason — and potentially unrestricted depending on games played — now has a new shot with the Oilers.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have played seven goalies this season and an eighth is on the way (see story).

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Flyers 5, Wild 4: Right back in win column thanks to another come-from-behind push

Flyers 5, Wild 4: Right back in win column thanks to another come-from-behind push

BOX SCORE

The Flyers have the Minnesota Wild figured out. Just spot them a two-goal lead.

The Flyers swept their season series with Minnesota by beating the Wild, 5-4, Tuesday night after trailing, 3-1, through the opening 20 minutes.

In their game at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 14, the Wild jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Flyers stormed back to win, 7-4.

James van Riemsdyk scored twice, finishing with five goals against the Wild this season.   

Here are my observations from the game at Xcel Energy Center:

• Once again, the Flyers were victimized by some horrendous officiating. A night after a potential goal was blown dead, defenseman Robert Hagg was whistled for a high-sticking double minor that he didn’t commit. Why the officials didn’t utilize replay to confirm their decision is baffling, but to force the Flyers to kill a four-minute PP down 3-1 could have been devastating.

• I thought Justin Bailey should have made his Flyers debut against Pittsburgh, but after watching Mikhail Vorobyev, I guess interim head coach Scott Gordon figured he had nothing to lose with Bailey as Vorobyev had reverted back to not skating.

As for Bailey, he was eight seconds into his first shift when the Flyers connected on their first goal. I liked how Bailey drove hard to the net, drawing the attention of the Wild defense, allowing the shot to deflect off a defenseman. One thing you notice about Bailey is that he doesn’t wait for things to happen. 

• When Carter Hart faced the Wild last month at the WFC, he alluded to Minnesota trying to run him into the net and it took that same approach Tuesday, bearing down on Anthony Stolarz. If you were watching the game on your TV, it was difficult to see precisely where the puck was in and around the crease because of a heavy flow of traffic as the Wild’s bigger forwards tried to Paul Bunyan their way through the Flyers' smaller defensemen on their way to the net.

• For so much of this season, the ineffective power play would drag this Flyers team down and take its spirits with it. Now it seems the Flyers are gaining strength and confidence from their power play. Van Riemsdyk’s 3-2 PP goal came at just the right time and gave the Flyers a much-needed boost, allowing them to eventually tie the game after two periods.

JVR added his second PP goal, which proved to be the game-winner. That power play now has goals in six of the last seven games with a 44 percent rate of success.

• Have you noticed when Travis Sanheim asserts himself in the offensive end, good things usually happen and rarely does he make a bad pinch or decision to jump in the play? Sanheim drove hard to the net, leading to Sean Couturier’s 3-3 goal. In 57 games this season, Sanheim has already doubled his point total from his rookie season with 20 points in 57 games after managing just 10 points in 49 games last year. Sanheim could be a 50-point contributor if he was a mainstay on the power play.

• I don’t how much longer Gordon can go without sticking with the Claude Giroux-Couturier-Jakub Voracek line from start to finish. The JVR-Giroux-Travis Konecny combo has really fizzled over the last six games and I find it playing defense during much of its shift and unable to create anything offensively.

Giroux and Couturier scored game-tying goals with Voracek unselfishly leaving the puck for Giroux, who has a much more lethal shot.

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