On October 15, 2013, former backup goaltender Martin Biron cleared waivers and shortly after that he made the decision to retire, seeing as how his days in the NHL were most likely up and a team wasn’t interested in what Biron had to offer.
The question then sprung up: “Who will become the new backup?” It seems as if that question has finally been answered. Throughout the past couple of weeks, Ranger fans have been surprised with the emergence of 26-year old netminder Cam Talbot, before we get into what he’s doing now, let’s go back and figure out where this all started.
Cam played college hockey at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In 2009-10, he was selected to the All-College Hockey America Second Team and was named MVP in the CHA Tournament, and also led his team to a NCAA Tournament birth.
On March 30 of 2010 the Rangers snatched Talbot, signing him as a free agent. After playing most of the 2010-11 season with the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, Talbot was called up on February 28, 2011, but he didn’t start one game and he was then returned to the AHL in March of 2012. After getting shuffled between that and the NHL, Cam made his debut with the Rangers on October 24, 2013 in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, but he showed flashes of brilliance, making some spectacular saves which gave New York a chance to win.
His first NHL win came in the next game on October 26 against the Detroit Red Wings, Talbot made 32 saves leading the Rangers to a 3-2 overtime victory.
Since that game, Talbot has won his last four starts, two of those being shutouts and one of those coming against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, which as we all know is one of the toughest places to win a hockey game.
Last night against the Nashville Predators, Cam picked up his second straight shutout, although the post saved him from Shea Weber twice, he made tremendous athletic saves that preserved a Rangers victory, their second in a row and sixth straight on the road.
What’s noticeable about Talbot is that all five of his current wins have come in enemy territory. If that doesn’t show you something then I don’t know what will. This kid has shown that he has the poise and talent for this league, and what has caught my eye is his tremendous calmness in front of the net. Some rookie goalies would be like a deer in headlights when thrown into a game in Montreal. Instead, Talbot kept his cool, remained relaxed and shut down a very powerful Canadiens team. Even teammates have praised him and given him confidence.
On Twitter, a lot of people have been saying that Talbot is ready to take the starting job from Henrik Lundqvist. Now, I would not go THAT far, but he has definitely shown that he is a suitable backup for “The King” in NY, and he is much more reliable than Biron ever was.
Let’s say, hypothetically, Glen Sather didn’t have the money to pay Lundqvist what he wants, and Henrik went to another organization. Many Ranger fans would be up in arms, but I wouldn’t, because I would realize that Talbot is the next person in line for the job, and it’s obvious he would do great things to help the team succeed.
Now, I’m not saying that is going to happen, but it is certainly possible considering how tight to the cap New York is and when looking at all of their upcoming free agents, the idea isn’t that far fetched.
What Talbot brings is skill, athleticism and control. Much like Lundqvist, he makes the saves when the defense collapses and gives the Rangers a chance to win when he is in net.
With the two-week break upcoming for the Olympics in Sochi, Cam is going to be a vital part to the team when Lundqvist needs a breather because let’s face it, Henrik is going to be playing every game for team Sweden in Russia, whether we like it or not.