Many of us know Cam Talbot as the ever ready ‘Goal Buster‘. A name deemed to him as his time in New York began to shape his career. As we all watched with intensity while Cam carried the New York Rangers into playoff contention in 2015 under the absence of Henrik Lundqvist, it became glowingly obvious Cam was ready to bust goals in another city for a new team. For many fans, people called for a change in New York in which Hank would be traded and Cam would take the reigns. Amidst his newly signed 8 year deal, no NHL club in their right mind would take on their cap space, Lundqvist was here to stay. Where did that leave Cam? For sure it left New York with the relaxing ability to make a run for the cup and capturing the presidents trophy, which ultimately ended in upset by the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The following off season was a hard pill to swallow for many fans as Cam was released from duty by the Rangers in a trade yielding 3 second round draft picks from Edmonton in exchange for his goaltending services.
Talbot’s first season with Edmonton was also the first of many seasons for rookie phenom Connor McDavid. McDavid’s first season was cut short by a lengthy shoulder injury. He would return but only for a short period of time near season’s end. Cam spent most of his first season battling for starting contention with others like Ben Scrivens. Only starting 53 games in his first season, Talbot put up a 21-27-5 record with a 2.55 GAA. Lacking a captain and a defensive core, Talbot had little to protect him facing nearly 1,700 shots in 53 starts. That works out to about 32 shots faced per game, and still holding a .917 save percentage for the season. While others in the like of Holtby posted a .923 while also capturing the Vezina trophy, awarded to the leagues best goaltender. Holtby started 66 games and in that time his team only surrendered 1,800 shots. 100 more shots faced in 13 more games is a large enough sample size speaking to the defensive abilities of the capitals. In Edmonton the lack of defensive ability and boasted offensive prowess proved unsuccessful, leading to the trade of Taylor Hall to the Devils for defensive power.
Coming into the off season it was agreed upon by Oilers management, change was needed. Connor McDavid was declared captain of the Oilers at the age of 19, becoming the youngest captain in NHL history. The fire began the first game with a game 1 rout of the Calgary flames. The Oilers came out fast putting up 7 goals.
The Calgary Flames were one of many victims to the Edmonton Oilers this season as Cam Talbot would play 73 of the 82 games. The high flying offense of the Oilers still lack the defense necessary to finish off a Stanley Cup caliber team. Cam would go on to post a solid 42 wins while saving 8 overtime losses to help Connor take his team into the Playoffs. While facing over 2,000 shots, holding a .919 save percentage, and a low 2.39 GAA with 7 shut outs, the Goal Buster earned serious mention for Vezina candidacy. However, due to also stellar play from Price early on in his campaign and Holtby doing what he does best, Cam was pushed out of the race for best NHL goaltender.
A stern arguement could be made that the likes of Sergei Bobvrosky could easily be replaced by Talbot. Bob had some stellar play during his 63 starts posting 41 wins. Arguably Bob does have a better save percentage at .931 but faced far fewer shots due to better team play in front of him. If we’re voting on who has made a bigger impact on their team it would easily be Cam Talbot over Bob. Bob has also proved to lack playoff production, leading to an embarrassing first round exit at the hands of the penguins this season.
During Cam’s 2016-17 regular season he also locked down sole possession of most wins by a goaltender in a single season surpassing Grant Fuhr. Grant Fuhr was the first black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his enormous years backing the Oilers for 5 rings with arguably the best team the NHL has ever seen in front of him. Guys like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffee backed Grant to carry them through the 80’s winning nearly every other year.
As the two goalies have played in two very different times, it’s hard to say who was more influential, but Cam had almost double the starts Grant Fuhr had, while also having a young and inexperienced team in front of him. Grant Fuhr could still count on winning a game if he allowed 4 goals in a game. For most of the 80’s in fact, Fuhr had a goals against average near 4 goals a game for many seasons. Keep in mind Fuhr played about 40-50 games per season and one of those seasons he won 40 of them. There is no credit to take away from grant. Thus making Cam’s record setting season that much more important.
The addition of Talbot brought the leagues bottom team to the top of the pacific division in just 2 seasons. Connor McDavid’s influence is insurmountable as well as Cam’s game saving ability. Many more years of wins are ahead of the young and gun Oilers as Cam approaches his prime. As fans we all have faith he will own a Vezina trophy by the end of his hard working career.