Grading the Wild’s trade of Cam Talbot to the Ottawa Senators

The Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators completed a notable goalie-for-goalie trade last month. In the deal, the Wild sent veteran Cam Talbot to the Senators, in exchange for Filip Gustavsson.

Below, we take a look at how the trade breaks down for each team.

Minnesota Wild

After the Wild re-signed goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, it seemed pretty clear Talbot wasn’t happy with the situation. Despite general manager Bill Guerin stating publicly that Talbot was under contract and the team was set, he moved Talbot shortly after.

In his two seasons with the Wild, Cam Talbot posted a respectable .913 save percentage in 82 games. He had a single year remaining on his contract at a $3.67 million cap hit.

In Gustavsson, the Wild are getting a much younger netminder in return. Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2016 draft, he was dealt to Ottawa in 2018 as part of a trade that sent forward Derick Brassard the other way. Gustavsson has played 27 career NHL games and this past season, he posted a .892 save percentage in 18 NHL games with Ottawa. He also played 20 AHL games with the Belleville Senators, managing a much stronger .915 save percentage.

While Gustavsson’s numbers with the Senators this year weren’t great, there are signs pointing to the fact that he could be a quality NHL goalie. Gustavsson was also playing behind a pretty weak NHL team this year, which didn’t help his stats. Then aside from his strong AHL play this year, his numbers in 2020-21 were consistently solid.

He had posted a .933 save percentage in nine games with the Senators during the COVID-shortened season. His AHL numbers were also solid, managing a .910 save percentage through 13 games with Belleville. He had also played 19 games in Sweden’s second-highest professional league, posting a .919 save percentage.

Gustavsson’s age is also still a key reason for optimism as well. Having recently turned 24 years old, he’s still developing and it’s difficult to project his ceiling.

It’s a pretty fair return for the Wild, given Talbot isn’t necessarily an outright starter and had only a year left on his deal. The Wild also lost a netminder who was still fairly young this season, trading Kaapo Kahkonen to the San Jose Sharks last offseason. As a result, getting a young netminder in Gustavsson was a nice addition.

Of course, the Wild also managed to clear cap space. The team is in a rough spot cap-wise, to the point where they needed to trade forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings for future assets. The Wild are still trying to remain competitive now, but having a young goalie like Gustavsson getting to learn behind Fleury could certainly pay off.

While the Wild may not have wanted to deal Talbot, they got a reasonable return.

Grade: B

Ottawa Senators

With Talbot, the Senators are acquiring an experienced netminder to stabilize their goaltending situation. Talbot is capable of playing 45-50 games per year and certainly provides an upgrade in net.

Anton Forsberg is coming off a great year as well and provides another solid option behind Talbot. The tandem should be a key asset for the team next season.

The downside with Talbot is that he won’t be a long-term solution after leaving the Wild. He’s now 35 years old and with just one year left on his contract, he could leave as soon as next summer. With the Senators building into a competitive team, Talbot may not necessarily be around for long.

They also gave up a pretty decent young goalie in Filip Gustavsson. While upgrading their goaltending was important, it wasn’t necessarily so urgent that they needed to give up Gustavsson for maybe only a year of Talbot.

If Talbot leaves in summer 2023 and Gustavsson does turn out to be a quality netminder, the deal could come back to hurt the Senators for not waiting. Ottawa does have some quality goaltending prospects in Mads Sogaard and Leevi Merilainen, they arguably don’t have a sure bet as a future starter. As a result, dealing Gustavsson at this point is a risk.

That said, the Senators were looking to make major upgrades this offseason. Adding Talbot from the Wild should be a big help for the team, as they look to push towards the playoffs.

While they gave up a good, young goalie to make it happen, Talbot should be a key piece for Ottawa next season.

Grade: B

With the deal, Ottawa gets immediate help in the form of Talbot. Hopefully, he’ll be able to provide the impact the Senators thought they’d get when they added Matt Murray in 2020.

For the Wild, they get a good, young goalie, while clearing cap space in the process. While trading Talbot may not have originally been part of the plan, Gustavsson is a solid addition who could potentially be a fit for the future.

Overall, it’s a fair deal for both sides in a case of proven stability vs. unproven potential.

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