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Friday, June 26, 2015

Talbot Trade Tinkering: Final Edition

   We’ve written a lot about Rangers understudy goaltender Cam Talbot on this blog over the months. With the NHL Draft beginning tonight, and Talbot’s trade highly likely, I thought we’d submit one more piece pertinent to Talbot.

   In our March 5th article Sather’s Busy Summer, we vaguely speculated whether Talbot would be cost-cutting tradebait come the offseason.

   In our March 20th article Cam Talbot’s Value & The 2015 Goalie Market, we were the first to break down the looming probability of Talbot’s worth in a trade. It was easy to conclude that Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton & San Jose would be the logical suitors of Talbot’s reception. 

   A week ago we listed the Top 10 (Realistic) Cam Talbot Trades during draft weekend, speculative of how valuable an asset Talbot would be to the highest bidder.

   On Wednesday we suggested Talbot’s expulsion was inevitable, as the NY Rangers will need to cut Talbot, and at least one additional Ranger, to adjust to the $71.4 million salary cap next season.

   Today I’d like to briefly suggest some alternative possibilities of return via trading Talbot. While budgetary reduction will be a paramount priority for Broadway this summer, it doesn’t completely rule out the idea of acquiring cheaply-contracted bodies in the looming Talbot deal.

   So what about a Talbot trade involving….?

Chad Johnson (Buffalo Sabres)

   Similar goalie to Talbot in the sense of contract and history as the Rangers backup. Johnson has one year remaining in his contract ($1.3 mil cap hit) before Unrestricted Free Agency in July 2016, also like Talbot. A bodily exchange of Johnson for Talbot alone would only be a net cap hit savings of $150,000 for the Rangers (they need to cut 10 times that this summer). However, if Johnson’s salary were to be retained by Buffalo, the “cap savings” for the Rangers could range from $150,000 to $800,000. Johnson has backed up 3 different NHL teams in the past 3 years (Arizona, Boston & Islanders) racking up 50 NHL games since leaving the Rangers organization in 2012. Johnson recently turned 29 years old.

   Joni Ortio (Calgary Flames)

   Calgary’s 3rd string, AHL-starting goalie, who’s been making a lot of noise about capability to transition into the big league. Ortio has played 97 AHL games with the Flames’ affiliate minor league team, and played 6 NHL games this past season. If Calgary is apt to acquire Talbot, having he and Jonas Hiller as a tandem next season… that would leave the 24-year-old Finnish goalkeeper looking for a new franchise with more opportunity. With goalie prospects Mac Skapski, Brandon Halverson & Igor Shesterkin are 3 or 4 years younger than Orito, it would give New York an immediate option to backup Lundqvist in October, while allowing the pipeline prospects to continue to develop below. Ortio's cap hit clocks in at $600,000; attractive to a team like the Rangers as it's only $25,000 above the league minimum.

 Oscar Klefbom - Edmonton Oilers

   Edmonton’s Swedish prospective defenseman whom has played 77 NHL games despite being 21 years of age. More impressively, Klefbom averaged 21 minutes per game for the dreary Oilers last season, impressing the hockey community with his tremendous upside. Klefbom is on the final year of his entry-level contract, which carries a meek $894,167 cap hit (with up to $350,000 in performance bonuses). If Broadway is looking to cut salary, and perhaps include Kevin Klein in a deal… Klefbom for Klein would save the Rangers just north of $2 million in cap savings next season. With a rich crop of budding NHL defensemen, including Martin Marincin (23) & Darnell Nurse (20)… Edmonton could be subject to unloading one of their bullion bluechips at a shot in acquiring a potential franchise goalie in Talbot.

Nail Yakupov - Edmonton Oilers

   The former #1 overall pick in 2012, Yakupov is signed for 2 more seasons at $2.5 million per season. Should the Oilers retain more than 42% of Yakupov’s salary, a straight-up swap for Talbot would be a payroll cut for the Rangers. But for more materialistic speculation, consider these subjective nuggets of thought:

  • To Rangers fans, Yakupov trade rumors have a reminiscent feel to that of a former “Glen-Sather-reclaimation-project” in that of Nik Zherdev. Yakupov has hardly smashed the league with goal-scoring since his debut (42 goals in 192 games), yet was clearly taken #1 overall for his offensive potential. Should Carl Hagelin be cut from Broadway for salary reasons, Yakupov would be a perfect fit for New York’s 3rd line.
  • Even more of an “out there” train of thought: the Rangers have not had a Russian-born NY Ranger since the days of Fedor Tyutin (who was coincidentally sent to Columbus for Zherdev). Is that relevant? Probably not. Except: If the Rangers want to woo European prospect Pavel Buchnevich to North America next season, having one of the highest-touted Russian youngsters in the lockerroom certainly couldn’t hurt. Buchnevich cited his English was extremely poor, so there’s probably not much allure to a franchise full of folks who don’t speak the language. Remember how Sergei Gonchar acted as a translator for Evgeni Malkin in his rookie year? If attempting to persuade Buchnevich to come to Rome, besides money, it could be an additional boon in having young Yakupov.

2016 Draft Picks?

   If the NY Rangers can’t get what they want in 2015 draft picks, probably due to a miscommunication of Talbot’s specific value in terms of picks… another option is acquiring 2015 picks instead. Why?

  • As we showed in our article about the historic measurements of trading draft picks, it seems teams are willing to “gamble” on picks’ particular worth when trading Year 1 pick(s) for Year 2 pick(s). Why would this happen? If two parties are at a mutual disagreement of both assigning value AND where their team will finish next season in the standings? It presents itself as a mutually amicable atmosphere for a now-for-later draft pick swap.

      If the Edmonton Oilers believe they will be a contending team in 2015-16, but don’t think Talbot is worth the #16 overall pick tonight… and simultaneously, New York believes Edmonton will flop once again next season, and believe Talbot IS worth such a pick… why not trade Talbot for Edmonton’s 2015 1st Round Pick? In this example, Edmonton would think it was giving New York a pick worse than #16, while New York thought it could very well be a BETTER pick. If two teams come to a conflicting conclusion, trading for more uncertain picks in a year can be a practical course of action.

  • Additionally, the NY Rangers could use the 2016 Draft Pick(s) acquired as an arsenal of exportable assets come the 2016 Trade Deadline. If New York finds itself in another successful season, looking to beef up for another deep playoff run, the Rangers offering draft picks to deadline sellers could be a great way of procuring reenforcement come March. 


   We’ll wait and see how Talbot’s fate plays out as the draft kicks off this evening. With the NY Rangers looking to cut $1.5 to $2 million in theoretical salary cap this summer, the Talbot trade could be an indicator of future moves. Should New York liquidate Talbot for draft picks and non-NHL prospects, we see a significant portion of necessary payroll has been cut, and trimming the rest could be very minor. However, if a equal-or-greater contract is returned, it signals Sather will be inclined to make bigger moves in the coming months to ultimately get a cap-compliant roster.

   Get the popcorn out folks, its NHL Draft Weekend.

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