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February 16, 2019

Flyers acquire Carter Hart's mentor, goalie Cam Talbot, from Edmonton

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Late Friday night, the Flyers traded goalie Anthony Stolarz to Edmonton in exchange for veteran Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, a move that seemed somewhat counterproductive on the surface, but could actually be low-key genius, not for the team, but for the development of rookie goalie Carter Hart. 

And when Talbot, 31, makes his debut for the Flyers, he will be the eighth goalie to play in a game for them this season. So why did general manager Chuck Fletcher feel the need to switch it up?

It has everything to do with their rookie phenom. 

A tandem of Hart and Stolarz wasn't sustainable for the full season. Sure, Stolarz has played well this year, but when you have a 20-year-old starter, you'd ideally like to have a backup with a little more of a veteran presence, and Talbot has that.

In 227 career games for the Oilers over four seasons, Talbot has a 104-95-19 record with a 2.74 GAA and a .912 save percentage. This season, his fifth in the NHL, he is 10-15-3 with a 3.36 GAA and a .893 save percentage in 31 appearances for Edmonton.

Moreover, Talbot and Hart have a preexisting relationship. 

“We really got along and last summer we partnered up and took the ice for goalie sessions throughout the summer,” Hart said, according to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. “He’s a great mentor. He’s a great goalie. He’s a great guy. He’s the guy I called before my first start just to ask him about pregame jitters and what to expect and everything. He actually told me a story, his first NHL game was in Philly and his first NHL win was two days later against Detroit 3-2 (the same score in which the Flyers best the Red Wings in Hart’s debut). Pretty crazy.”

Now, just a few months later, the two will both be suiting up in orange and black and working alongside one another for real. And Talbot is apparently looking forward to that opportunity.

Here's more on Talbot from his former team's hometown paper, The Edmonton Sun.

Talbot was one of the most popular Oilers with the fans and a pro’s pro, who always stood in and talked about goals, good or bad. He had a shaky start as a starter in the first few months after being acquired from the New York Rangers, but got it together and played 140 games over the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. He was the busiest goalie in the NHL and finished in the top five in Vezina voting in 2016-17. But his play had been spotty this season in 31 games. He started the first eight games before the Finnish goalie Mikko Koskinen got a start and beat Nashville Oct. 27. Talbot had started four of five games after Koskinen was signed but with the Oilers more in sell-off mode than buyer with their playoff hopes dying by the day, he was moved to save some money.  []

Meanwhile goalie Brian Elliott, who started the season in net, has been dealing with multiple injuries and is still working his way back with rehab starts in Lehigh Valley. 

In trading away Stolarz, the Flyers aren't giving up much. Sure, he's played well, but with just 19 NHL starts under his belt, it was beginning to become clear that the 25-year-old goalie wasn't a front-line starter in the league, at least not yet. Furthermore, Stolarz is a restricted free agent after the season, and if the Flyers wished to send him back to the Phantoms for next year, he would have needed to clear waivers, meaning the Flyers could've been left with nothing. 

Instead, they return a veteran goalie. And while Talbot hasn't been having the best season for Edmonton, his veteran locker room presence and previous relationship with the future of the franchise in net is invaluable to this team right now. 

But what about moving forward?

Well, it depends what happens down the stretch this season. Talbot will also be a free agent in the summer, but it would certainly make sense for the Flyers to re-sign him assuming everything goes according to plan the rest of this year. And, of course, if the price is right. 

UPDATE [11:52 a.m.] — New Flyers goalie Cam Talbot said he's not only open to re-signing with the Flyers, but he's open to doing so before the season is over and he becomes a free agent.

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