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New NHL Game: Goalie Swapping

The Flyers and Oilers made a baffling trade, swapping goalie for goalie.

Cam Talbot by Annie Devine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

New NHL Game: Goalie Swapping

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Who won? The Flyers or Oilers?

With any trade, I always ask myself which team won. As do most fans. I’ve been truly scratching my head at the recent goalie trade between the Flyers and the Oilers. In case you missed it, veteran goalie Cam Talbot will be moving from Edmonton to Philadelphia in exchange for the young Anthony Stolarz. It happened at midnight when no one was around to yell about it until the next morning. The league analysts have been really trying to break this down.

My reaction is: HUH??!

Talbot has been a steaming pile of garbage all season. In fact, if Gritty himself was inside of a trash can like his distant cousin Oscar the Grouch, and was to play goalie from within said trashcan, he would in fact stop more goals than Cam Talbot has this year. He is dead last in save percentage of goalies playing over 30+ games. He’s 31 years old and has had three winning seasons in the last six in which he has played. One of those seasons he only played twenty one games. In seasons he plays over thirty games, he has a losing record three out of five times. One good season doesn’t make a goalie. The dude isn’t good, he isn’t gonna be good, and the sooner Edmonton got rid of him probably the better.

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that Edmonton has any good option waiting for them. They have two of the top forwards in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they can’t outscore the tissue paper thin excuse for a goaltending core that is back there. Mikko Koskinen is barely better, with a 14-14-0 record to Talbot’s 10-15-3. The skaters are doing a decent job in keeping shots off the net, but combined the two goalies have allowed 181 goals so far. You just can’t keep up. Edmonton once again looks set to miss the playoffs despite their fire power.

But is Stolarz any better?

Stolarz is a tender 25-years-old. He’s played a scant nineteen games in the NHL over the last three years, only seeing ice in two seasons. His average save percentage is just over .900%. He’s had two knee surgeries already. He lost the starting spot in Philly, on a four goalie deep core, to Carter Hart. Hart is having a good year, but I’m prone to trepidation especially considering he is a rookie. Hart edged out Stolarz and the other two back ups with just twenty games in the tank.

That isn’t what I would call a vote of confidence in Stolarz’s possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, he is a better acquisition for Edmonton than Talbot is for the Flyers. He clearly was just enticing enough to where he is going, but expendable enough where he was. The Flyers could probably have negotiated a better deal, a draft pick or something else in addition to Talbot for their big question mark. His role in Philly was going to be, at best, a back up position to a kid four years younger and years greener than him. This is also while competing in what is effectively a farm of goalies run by the Flyers organization. With Talbot now in the fold, five guys are once again fighting for the back up slot.

But, is a chronically injured, untested underdog the thing that Edmonton wants to hang their hat on? Apparently.

Realistically, Stolarz won’t be the starter in Edmonton. It’s late in the season and Koskinen has been fine enough to finish it out. Stolarz is young enough that he could surprise everyone, but that realistically leaves Edmonton with two back ups vying for a starting spot. Neither of these goalies would be starters anywhere else.

This whole trade baffles me. Both teams effectively traded dead weight for more dead weight. Going down the rabbit hole of free agency and salary caps helps a little bit of the math but, ultimately, the Oilers still have a terrible goaltending core and the Flyers just acquired an older player who can’t prove whether he is worth anything. Neither has solved a problem They have just changed it a little. Let’s see if either surprises us.

Sarah Jane, Sarah, or SJ-depending on the source-is a director, educator, theatre artist and now, sports blogger. She lives in Queens with her darling, not-so-sports-fan boyfriend. She played ice hockey growing up for the NJ Quarry Cats and various other teams. Being team captain her last two seasons is the most important achievement of her life to date. She proudly also was about a quarter of the size of her opponents and often led her team in both penalty minutes and enthusiasm. She's a Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers fan (thanks, Momma!) and a New York Yankees fan (thanks, Poppa?) and was given zero choice on all three of these teams. Other hobbies include reading non-fiction books, cooking, and being spunky. Check in with her for all your greater hockey needs!

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