The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are trading goalies without actually making a trade.
The Oilers have signed former Flames’ starter Mike Smith to a one-year contract worth $2 million, while the Flames have signed former Oilers’ starter Cam Talbot to a one-year contract worth $2.75 million.
The Oilers get: A 37-year-old goalie who spent the past two seasons in Calgary. Smith struggled mightily all the way up to mid-February (3.11 GAA, .889 SV%), but he got his game back to track enough to be named the Flames’ starting goalie during the playoffs. His late-season play (2.08 GAA and .916 SV%) and playoff performance (.917 SV%) suggest that there might be something left in the tank. However, his joining the defensively-challenged Oilers seems like a risky proposition for fantasy owners.
The Flames get: Talbot, a goalie who showed mixed results in just over three and a half seasons in Edmonton. In Talbot’s first two seasons in Edmonton, he averaged a 2.46 GAA and .918 SV% in helping the Oilers break their playoff drought. After that, Talbot struggled mightily, averaging a 3.13 GAA and .903 SV% before being traded to the Flyers in February. So unlike Smith, Talbot does not have the recency effect working for him and will try to revive his career in Calgary.
Since Peter Chiarelli believed in Mikko Koskinen enough over half a season to award him a three-year contract worth $4.5 million, Koskinen is still the golden boy in Edmonton. Smith is being brought in to (try to) stabilize the goaltending situation and provide better competition for Koskinen than Anthony Stolarz was able to provide after being acquired in the Talbot deal. Matching his 42 games played in Calgary in 2018-19 might be on the high end of his games-played projection, but he could easily turn this into a timeshare situation. However, there’s the issue of the Oilers’ defense in front of him, a defense that is clearly inferior to the group in Calgary.
In order to determine who the starter is in Calgary, we may need to look at the money situation. Rittich should earn considerably more than his $800,000 from 2018-19, so it remains to be seen whether his cap hit will be higher or lower than Talbot’s $2.75 million. Rittich had the better season of the Flames’ current goalies in 2018-19 (see the Goalie Comparison Tool). However, it’s a bit concerning that he tailed off during the second half (.902 SV% after January 1) while watching Smith reclaim the starter’s job. Rittich should still have the inside track on the starter’s job, and his projected number of starts appears to be higher than it would be had the Flames acquired a goalie with a stronger 2018-19 (eg. Robin Lehner, Petr Mrazek).
WWDD (What Would Dobber Do)? By Darryl Dobbs
Since I own Talbot in one of my keeper leagues – a full keeper which is pretty deep and it would be wise to have three starting goaltenders, or two starters plus two or three backups who could become starters in a pinch – I figured there would be some value in my outlining strategy.here. Rittich really tailed off in the second half, indicating that he is unused to heavier workloads. The dropoff was concerning enough that the Flames went with Smith in the playoffs. His 45 games played was the second highest total in his career (he played 48 games in the Czech League in 2015-16). Rittich could sign for anywhere from $2 million to $5 million, depending on the term and the sucker-ness of GM Brad Treliving. If it's under $2.75M then you could actually see Talbot starting 45 games vs. Rittich's 37. If it's over $4.5 million, then the split would be 52-30 in favor of Rittich, or thereabouts. So that number is important as an indicator of Talbot's future. This is a better team in front of him, possibly the best team in front of him…ever. So the numbers will be better just from that fact. But will he get enough starts to make this worthwhile? Rittich's contract will help answer that question. Until we get that contract number, I am going to play this as if Talbot starts a number in between the two ranges I identify, but leaning towards the higher number – call it 40 games, which on this team is 24 or 25 wins.
Players this helps, in order:
Talbot (at least he’ll have a stronger defense in front of him)
Players this hurts, in order:
Fantasy owners are discussing this on the Forum – give your take here!
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