The dilemma is always there: A franchise always wants to have strong goaltending and a strong, reliable back-up, but the threat of losing such a commodity to a club dangling a starting gig is constant. Cam Talbot may be approaching this kind of situation in his near future and the Rangers need to be ready to deal with it.
The Rangers have been lucky in recent times with backup goaltending thanks to Marty Biron and now – in spectacular style – Cam Talbot. With Talbot’s play – leading the league in save percentage and goals against average – Talbot will surely be an enticing prospect for several clubs this summer (the likes of Washington, Islanders, Calgary and perhaps even teams such as Winnipeg). Henrik Lundqvist’s backup still has a year left on his modest contract and with his performances, appealing size and (likely) desire not to remain a back-up long term, he’ll surely be open to offers.
The Rangers, while obviously not wanting to lose a player performing to Talbot’s current level, need to take advantage of Talbot’s play this summer and sell high. Barring the worst of worst case scenarios, the commitment made to Lundqvist means Lundqvist is in it for the long term. Subsequently, Talbot will surely leave at the first opportunity he has if he continues to perform to such a high level so the Rangers need to effectively manage their assets.
With a modest deal the Rangers could get a good asset in return for Talbot. While his body of work will still be small this summer (perhaps a maximum of 20-25 starts?), Talbot has proven he is a solid NHL goaltender and can likely be signed beyond his current contract quickly and to a relatively modest deal. If the Rangers could get a 2nd round pick or a roster part back then it’s an option they need to explore.
Of course, this (re-)opens a hole on the current roster, but there are plenty of back-up calibre goaltenders available who are in different situations/points of their career compared to Talbot. With a rising cap, the Rangers can afford to spend to find an able back-up to the King. They can’t afford to let an asset such as Cam Talbot walk for nothing. The league’s most successful teams are those who manage their rosters most effectively. The Rangers need to follow suit.