The 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season is one veteran goaltender Cam Talbot would rather forget. The established NHL netminder struggled throughout the season with both the Edmonton Oilers and the Philadelphia Flyers and there were a lot of questions regarding his ability to play at the NHL level following that season. You can forgive critics for being too hard on Talbot given that he registered a 3.36 goals against average and a .893 save percentage with the Edmonton Oilers over 31 games only to follow that up with a 3.70 goals against average and an .881 save percentage with the Flyers over 4 games played in that same season but now Talbot believes he has proved his doubters wrong.
The veteran goaltender took a gamble on himself in the 2019 - 2020 NHL regular season by signing a one year contract with the Calgary Flames, a deal in which he was effectively risking long term security for a chance to prove himself and earn a better deal down the line. You would be hard pressed to argue that Talbot did not redeem himself this year, recording a 2.63 goals against average and a .919 save percentage over 26 games played, outplaying Flames starting goaltender David Rittich in the process. Through it all Talbot quietly accepted his role as a backup goaltender, but it seems clear now that if the Flames want to keep him that will no longer be good enough.
"I wouldn't rule out coming back, but, obviously, my goal coming here was to show the rest of the League that I still have it in me to be a starting goalie and I think I accomplished that,"said Talbot as per NHL.com.
"I think as long as I would get a fair chance off the bat (to be the starter); I don't know if this year I really got that," Talbot said. "I know that they kind of wanted to see what was going on with [Rittich], but I kind of knew that coming in. I think that once I got my opportunity to come in and show what I can do that I still would be able to carry the mail. Obviously, I'd like to play more than 50-50, but 50-50 would be, you know, another step up from what I got this year, so I'll take it."
It is clear that Talbot's showcase season was not meant for the Flames alone, as Talbot himself said his intention was to "show the rest of the league" that he can still be a starting goaltender. Keeping that in mind it sounds like the soon to be free agent is highly likely to take a look at the open market once his contract expires, given that he feels he has in fact proved himself,
"That's why I wanted the one-year deal, I wanted a redemption year," the 32-year-old said. "I knew that if I came to camp healthy and in the right situation, I was confident I was going to be able to get back to that form. I think I played through some stuff that maybe I shouldn't have played through the year before, and toward the end of the year before that, so that had a lot of mitigating factors behind my declining play those years. But I think my record shows that when I'm healthy and on top of my game I can be one of the best in the League."
Only time will tell if he will get the chance to prove that as a member of the Calgary Flames, or somewhere else entirely new next season.