Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill has done several interviews this offseason about how important it is to stabilize the backup goaltending position. The first move he made to improve the position was to move then-goaltending coach Mike Valley into a Director of Goalie Development position and then hiring ex-Philadelphia Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese.
Reese has had recent success with Sergei Bobrovsky and then resurrecting Steve Mason's game last year. It can be viewed as a gesture of confidence towards Stars starter Kari Lehtonen, in that they will bring in Reese and give Lehtonen all the tools and opportunity to fix his game.
After all, his $5.9 million cap hit is not likely to go anywhere with so many teams in a cap crunch currently. With young, cheap options like Eddie Lack, Robin Lehner and Cam Talbot on the trade market, a trade opportunity is unlikely as well.
The Stars have been linked to Cam Talbot previously, but yesterday the trade talks heated up. Elliotte Friedman reported late yesterday that the New York Rangers have granted permission for five teams to talk to Cam Talbot. The Stars are among them, in company with the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers.
Friedman reports that teams are allowed to talk to the 27-year old about how he would fit with the club and answer questions Talbot may have about the city, but are not permitted to discuss salary.
Presumably, with Talbot headed to unrestricted free agency after this year, teams will not want to give up prospects for one year of a goalie that could walk for nothing next July. So, opening this window allows teams to gauge Talbot's level of interest in re-signing without talking salary specifically. Since many other factors go into contract decisions, Dallas will leave a meeting with Talbot with a good sense of where he is leaning.
It's an important meeting, given the asking price.
There have been reports that the Rangers turned down an offer of two second-round draft picks for Talbot. Most likely, they're looking for a first- or second-round draft pick as well as a cheap prospect in return. The Rangers could need a number of positions as prospects go, chief among them defense and, to a lesser degree, scoring wingers.
With little cap space and potentially trading a guy like Rick Nash, the Rangers could want several prospects the Stars have in their system. Someone like Jamie Oleksiak to fit on their blueline, or a scoring forward like Brett Richie are both prospects I could see as fits for the Rangers.
The Stars are looking at all options for backup goaltending, but here's why I think the Talbot rumors could be just that -- rumors.
Nill's negotiations have never been this public. When the Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza deals happened, it was right on the cusp of the deals being made official. Most of the other trade deals they've been connected to have been shot down pretty quickly by the organization itself. There's nothing that has been reported by Mike Heika, who has the true pulse of the Stars front office more than any other source we've seen previously, to indicate that the Stars are in the thick of Talbot trade negotiations to the point that makes this deal likely.
Are they interested? Absolutely. They're interested in anything that improves the team. However, my money would be on the Stars acquiring a goaltender they haven't been connected to in the media yet. It's possible Talbot ends up being the best option available to the Stars, but it is by no means a done deal. We should keep our eyes open for other possibilities -- and don't be surprised when Nill hits you one out of left field.
After all, it's what he has done the last several offseasons in Dallas. He's a sneaky one.