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 the 2016-17 season.
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.
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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