Philly Sports Live

What We Learned: What is Cam Talbot actually worth? (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. The New York Rangers have made it quite clear that, due in large part to their current cap crunch, the bidding is open on backup goaltender Cam Talbot. At first blush, it seems like acquiring Talbot would be a good move, and the rumors are flying that as many as six or seven teams have an interest in acquiring his services. Certainly, his only two seasons at the NHL level — playing as a backup/injury fill-in for Henrik Lundqvist — seem to portend that he’s capable of being an NHL starter, but that comes with the caveat that we have very little information about what Talbot can actually do at the NHL level (he has only faced a little fewer than 3,350 shots) over 57 career games. And that alone should be enough to give one pause about trading what could be a late first- or early-second round pick — it’s not entirely clear what the Rangers seek in return for Talbot but that’s probably in the right area — because it seems like the very definition of “buying high,” which Wall Street people would tell you is a bad idea. Especially if it means you have to take a bad contract from the Rangers, like Kevin Klein’s, as well. Add in the fact that he’s basically a career minor leaguer who only became an NHL backup (albeit to the guy who’s been the best goalie in the world over the last decade) two seasons ago, and there’s a lot of reason to believe that Talbot wouldn’t be a good investment. But those who think teams should keep their powder dry here are, I think, selling Talbot short somewhat, and also doing something that most hockey fans do all the time: Overvaluing draft picks, and undervaluing even slightly better than mediocre goaltending performance. Starting netminders are used so often, and in such a high-leverage role, that someone who delivers you goaltending that’s even a single percentage point north of the league average is probably going to be as valuable as a decent top-six forward in terms of the number of points provided to you in the standings. And the higher you get from there, the more valuable a goaltender will be, obviously. Meanwhile, the odds that even a late first-round pick yields an NHLer capable of being in the league for a few years is minimal, and the odds that he’s an impact player is even lower . Therefore, if you can get a guy who looks like he’s capable of being an NHL starter for a pick beyond, say, No. 20, you have to pull the trigger on that. Which, of course, circles back to the question of just how good Talbot is and, indeed, can be. While we may not have a lot of information about his NHL capabilities, we can certainly see how he stacks up over the course of his entire career (these numbers include playoff results as well as regular-season).