Not many people knew who Cameron Talbot was when the New York Rangers signed him out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. A big, lanky goaltender standing at 6-foot-3, Talbot had prototypical NHL goalie size. He started off splitting time between the AHL and ECHL, learning the pro game and adjusting to facing pro shots.
Talbot was an intriguing prospect coming out of the CHA. Alabama isn’t a known hockey state and surely isn’t on the map for most quality prospects who go the college route. Talbot posted good numbers in his final year in the CHA with a 2.65 GAA and a .925 save percentage. It wasn’t until his second year as a pro, however, that the Rangers thought they had a legitimate prospect on their hands.
The Connecticut Whale had a good run in 2011-12, headlined by forwards Kris Newbury and Jonathan Marchessault. That team made the AHL playoffs and actually won a series. Talbot started all nine games in the postseason even when Chad Johnson, now the current backup of the Boston Bruins, was the starter during the season. Johnson was not with the team the next season and Talbot was given the reins in the 2012-13 campaign. He started 55 games and went 25-28-1-2 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.63 GAA.
New York saw this progress and after starting five games in the AHL this season, Talbot was called up to replace Martin Biron. Talbot has been a revelation for the Rangers this season, providing stable goaltending and giving the team a chance to win each night. He has only given up more than two goals in a game twice in his 20 starts. He has also posted three shutouts in his 12 wins on the season. His save percentage of .940 is tops in the league of goaltenders with 15 or more games played, while his GAA would rank second behind the Minnesota Wild‘s Josh Harding.
But statistics only tell half the story. Talbot is cool, calm and collected. He seems to take a very similar approach to Carey Price, always in control and never making a desperation save. He is always in position and absorbs shots to prevent rebounds and second chances for the opposition.
He has played the role of backup excellently, as any goalie playing behind Henrik Lundqvist must. Lundqvist is a workhorse goaltender, so any backup is going to have to wait for his opportunities to play, yet Talbot doesn’t show signs of rust and keeps sharp mentally when he does get the call.
The future is uncertain for Talbot. If he wants to become the starter for an NHL team, he is going to have to look elsewhere than New York. Lundqvist recently signed an extension for seven more seasons with the Rangers, and he is going to be the starter for most, if not all of that time. It may prove difficult to re-sign Talbot after next season, though he is a restricted free agent and the Rangers are guaranteed a return if he signs elsewhere.
If he enjoys New York, however, that is a good sign for the Rangers. Not many teams can boast two good goaltenders, and the Rangers have focused on defense and goaltending as their keys to success over the past few years.