After a season where he went 16-4-3 with a .935 save percentage in Henrik Lundqvist’s absence in the net for the New York Rangers, backup goaltender Cam Talbot’s value has seemingly never been higher. He has established himself as one of the better backups in the league, and at age 27 could have just set himself for a starter’s role and a big pay-day next season when he hits free agency. But with the Rangers having little salary cap space to bring back its current free agents such as Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Martin St. Louis, general manager Glen Sather has begun shopping Talbot with the NHL Draft less than a week away, looking for a large return for the career backup.

usa-today-8487009.0The Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, and San Jose Sharks are thought to be the most interested in Talbot’s services, with the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers also thought to be in the mix. On Tuesday it was noted that an anonymous team had offered two second round draft picks for Talbot, with a deal not coming to fruition. The thought is the Rangers are holding out for at least one first round pick and possibly more, as the Oilers have been mentioned as willing to talk about the 16th pick in the draft, but nothing has been confirmed in that regard. With Talbot only making $1.45 million next year on his one year contract, the affordability is what is making Sather reach for as much as he can out of Talbot, and this is the best time to do so, as the farther into the season he waits, the closer to the end of contract he gets and the smaller the return. If Sather had his way he would probably try to pull a first this year and a first next year for Talbot, which could be a bargain given his upside and new-found experience, and if the team that acquires him is able to sign him long-term at some point, they likely have their franchise goalie for the foreseeable future. So Sather would be wise to get as much as possible for him now, or risk losing him for nothing next year.

Defenseman Kevin Klein’s name has also popped up in these rumors, as the Rangers have looked to take him $2.9 million salary off their books for a less expensive sixth defense spot, in an attempt to maximize the return by adding him to any Calbot trade. Whether this works would be anyone’s guess, especially with a salary double Calbot’s, which could actually stifle the return instead of enhance.

If Sather is going down the road of trading Calbot he needs to make sure he gets full value in return. While Talbot has only been in the pros for two years he has proved himself capable of being an NHL goalie on a winning team, plus Lundqvist is now 33. While his injury last season was a freak occurrence (hit in the throat by a puck), this will be his 11th season in the league and he has started 50 or more games in every season but one. The worst case scenario for both Sather and the Rangers would be for Talbot to be traded for a package that has no impact on the roster this season, and then all of a sudden…Lunqvist goes down again.

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