Thursday, December 3, 2015

Goalie controversy roundup: The Western Conference

On Wednesday, we looked at a half dozen Eastern Conference teams with unsettled goaltending situations. Some were old-fashioned controversies, whereas others were short-term situations caused by slumps or injuries.

We move on to the West, where we'll start with a team that seems to have a permanent spot on this list over the years.

Edmonton Oilers: Cam Talbot vs. Anders Nilsson

In this corner: Coming off a surprisingly good season with the New York Rangers, Talbot was the Oilers' offseason trade target. They got him, at the cost of three draft picks. Would he finally stabilize years of shaky goaltending? Spoiler alert: These are the Oilers we're talking about.

And in this corner: Nilsson was another trade piece, although one that received far less attention. He came over from the Chicago Blackhawks to provide the organization with some depth, and perhaps push Ben Scrivens for the backup job.

The results so far: Nilsson pushed Scrivens all the way to the AHL, and he didn't stop there. He's earned a share of the starter's job with Talbot, who hasn't played well at all.

Prediction: The Oilers have a decision to make on Talbot, and soon; he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and with Edmonton looking like it will be well out of the playoff race, you'd expect the team to either sign him long term or try to flip him at the deadline to recover some of the assets it gave up to get him. That still gives Talbot a few months to find his game and reclaim the starter's job, and there's good reason to think that he can.

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