Around this time last summer, the Vancouver Canucks had a bittersweet problem on their hands. They had two starting goaltenders on their squad (Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider) but only one starting spot available. Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils for a first-round draft pick. Then 26-year-old backup Eddie Lack played out of his mind, which resulted in Luongo being sent to the Florida Panthers. Now they struggled to stay over .500 and fired their GM and head coach.
This is what I like to call the “hot backup goalie syndrome.” A backup goalie comes out of nowhere and plays very good for a few weeks only to hypnotize the front office and fans into thinking he’s legit (when in reality, it’s far from the case). GMs then see this is as a good way to trade their starters and clear cap space only to see it backfire in their faces.
Why do I mention this? Enter Cam Talbot. While it was a near guarantee Henrik Lundqvist would sign long-term with the New York Rangers, during his contract talks the 27-year-old rookie came in and played like a young Lundqvist (12-6-1, 1.64 GAA, .941 SV%). People genuinely thought that Lundqvist was finished and that Talbot was the future. Luckily Lundqvist came around and silenced anybody who thought trading him and starting Talbot would be smart.
But where does this leave Talbot’s future? Clearly he’s stated his case as one of the best (if not the best) backup goalies in the NHL. He’s in the midst of his prime and has shown flashes of being a solid starter. The only reason he didn’t fare so well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was most likely because of first-time jitters (you want to see first-time jitters, the look on David LeNeveu‘s face when Lundqvist almost got injured in the playoffs is the perfect example).
People have mentioned the thought of trading Talbot, but where does that leave you? To be honest, goalies aren’t valued much as forwards or defensemen. You wouldn’t get much in return compared to what he can bring you on the ice. Backup goalies are very important, especially when the starter goes down. Having someone to step up is key. Plus, Talbot just entered the NHL, so teams will see this and not risk trading too much.
Talbot should be on the Rangers’ bench for the start of the 2014-15 season. Everybody thinks they should trade him now while his stock his high, but backup goalies never have high stocks. Hot backup goalie syndrome isn’t as effective in the offseason.