TORONTO – Cam Talbot is so accustomed to riding the NHL’s goalie carousel, he should’ve got a Fastpass.
The 35-year-old’s latest summertime spin flung him away from the Minnesota Wild and a continued tandem situation with Marc-André Fleury to the Ottawa Senators, where Talbot’s long résumé places the Ontario native atop the depth chart entering camp.
Another off-season, another edition of As the Goalie World Turns.
Talbot inserts a shrug emoji here.
“I feel like I’m always a part of it. So, it’s not new to me. It always seems to be one of the most talked about points in the NHL, because unless you’re (Andrei) Vasilevskiy or something like that, you’re moving around more often than not,” Talbot said Wednesday at Smashfest.
“I feel like I’m well versed in it now, unfortunately. But it’s just the way it goes, and it’s fun to be a part of, I guess. It’s good to see a lot of new cities and meet a lot of new teammates.”
Shifting to his sixth organization in seven years, Talbot met his first Senators teammate, excitable winger Mathieu Joseph, at Wednesday’s charity bash.
But he and wife Kelly calculated the driving distance from the Talbot family’s Toronto-area off-season home to Ottawa as soon as July 13’s trade for goalie Filip Gustavsson went down. New teammates have already reached out with real-estate suggestions, and Talbot plans to make the trek northeast soon.
“It’s about four and a half hours away from my house right now. So, easier commute, that’s for sure, with the kids (Landon and Sloane) and everything,” Talbot said. “I’m looking forward to the Battle of Ontario, that’s for sure. I was on both sides of the Battle of Alberta, so it’s gonna be fun to be part of this one.”
Things got awkward in Minnesota at the draft once pending UFA Fleury, 37, received a two-year contract from GM Bill Guerin that gave him more security than Talbot — who is entering his final season at a $3.67-million cap hit and was eager for an extension of his own.
Guerin and Talbot’s agent, George Bezos, had a tense conversation in Montreal that went public.
The Wild got a more cost-effective tandem; Pierre Dorion got a proven NHL goaltender and another leader in the room.
“The way it ended in Minnesota wasn’t the way I wanted it to end, to be quite honest. We thought we’d see ourselves there for a long time to come. But obviously, that’s not how it played out,” Talbot explained.
“On the flip side, I’m excited to be part of a new group, a very young group, one that’s headed in a great direction. They got a great, young core. They brought in so many good pieces, and I’m happy to be one of those pieces.”
After seizing the majority of Minnesota’s starts in 2020-21 and 2021-22, Talbot was at risk of losing the lion’s share to a future Hall of Famer. Remember: Fleury, a trade deadline acquisition, jumped in and got all but one of the Wild’s starts in its six-game Round 1 defeat by St. Louis.
In the nation’s capital, however, the crease will be Talbot’s to lose.
No doubt, Dorion is high on 29-year-old backup Anton Forsberg. The GM signed off on a three-year, $8.25-million extension for his waiver find in late March.
But Talbot’s track record (201-143-34, .915) and playoff experience inject some much-needed leadership to the roster.
Make no mistake. Talbot priority is not to mentor.
He desires that Number 1 status.
“I mean, that’s the goal, right? That’s what you want to be. No one wants to go into camp and say, ‘You know what? I don’t want to play that many games this year.’ We’re all competitive hockey players, and there’s that competitive edge, that aggressiveness that you want to be the guy. Everybody wants to be the guy. If you don’t want to be the guy, then you’re probably not going to be at this stage in your career,” Talbot said.
“I’m at 35 years old now, but I still want those games. I still want the net every single night, and it’s gonna be a battle. I mean, Anton is a very good goalie as well. He’s got a three-year contract ahead of him. So obviously they see a lot outta him, too. So, there’s gonna be a battle for starts, and whoever’s playing the best is gonna play. And that’s the way it should be.”
Talbot can run down the string of bright lights in the Ottawa rebuild with ease.
There’s the pesky 22-year-old captain: “You never want a guy like Brady (Tkachuk) standing in front of you. He wreaks havoc in front of the net.”
The newly extended centre, Josh Norris: “He rips the puck.”
The pace-setting defenceman, Thomas Chabot.
And, of course, the “massive” trade score in sniper Alex DeBrincat and the proven leader and free-agency find Claude Giroux.
“I think that between him and myself, we can lead in a certain way that needs to be done. And obviously bringing in a skill guy like Alex, that just speaks wonders to the direction that this group is going,” Talbot said.
“Their core group of guys, they’ve been there for a while now. They’ve gone through it. They’re ready for the next step.”
Talbot believes when hockey folks call up the Senators roster, they’ll now be forced to take the team more seriously.
And the kid who grew up glued to those feisty Battle of Ontario tilts on Hockey Night in Canada beside Dad was pumped to see that the Senators first exhibition games and first Saturday night match are against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Those rivalry games are always the best ones to be a part of. They fire you up more than any other game, and you kind of circle them on the calendar,” Talbot said. “It was so much fun watching back then, and I’m looking forward to being part of it.
“It’s an exciting time in Ottawa.”
Even more exciting if a contract-year Talbot can help give the kids a chance.
This content was originally published here.