Goalies and value for dollars

Cam Talbot at 3 x $4.17 – steal or boat anchor?

I’m going to say to you – we won’t know until next year. It’s tough to quantify goaltender value when it comes to contracts.

It’s clear that Chiarelli is committing to Talbot as the starter next year – and $4M for a starter is cheap.

On the other hand, Talbot has a .926 sv%, but has just 80-some NHL games under his belt, and that means there is risk in committing to him.  But not as much risk as you might think.

@Woodguy55 looked at Talbot and laid out a solid case that what Talbot has accomplished so far is very rare, and something achieved only by elite or near-elite goalies.

@WheatNOil and I looked at every new goalie in the last decade and found that the first 50 to 70 games of an NHL goalie’s career is a much better predictor of the rest of their career than most people think is the case.

So I would have liked him a bit cheaper, but I like this deal.  Remember, this is a pure UFA deal, and at least three other teams were bidding to trade for Talbot last year, so that adds quite a bit to his bargaining power.

Going forward, if we assume Laurent Broissoit is the backup, that’s about $5M and change committed to the goalering next year.

Take a look at this chart (data compiled by @Woodguy55 from war-on-ice.com and generalfanager.com), which shows dollars paid vs save percent for goalies this year (this is at the team level, not the player level, so there are 30 data points):

goalie cost vs sv figure_21

Notice that there is basically no correlation between how much you spend and what kind of performance you get.  If there is a correlation, if anything, it’s slightly negative!  That means that many of the goalies on this list that are delivering middling to lousy performance are proven and highly-paid veterans.

Goalies aren’t so much voodoo as a pain in the ass!

Now, take a look at some of the stats around spending and save percent for this dataset:

Cap $ Sv %
mean 6.5 91.2
stdev 1.7 0.8
min 1.9 89.7
25% 5.6 90.8
median 6.6 91.2
75% 7.5 91.9
max 10.4 92.6

At $5M, the Oilers would still be well below average for amount of cap spent on goalies if it were this year.  And that buys you .905 goaltending or so this year.  I expect much better goaltending from Cam Talbot.

Would I like a lower cap hit on this deal?  Yes.

But, taking into account risk, cost, and the situation with the rest of the league, this is actually a pretty good signing by Chia.

Now … please fix the defense!


4 thoughts on “Goalies and value for dollars

  1. If there is a NMC or NTC attached with it then its a bad deal, regardless of cap hit. Talbot is not proven enough that you sign a deal for this much and then restrict your ability to get rid of him if he fails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That seems like an excessively broad statement. If this was a $1M contract with an NMC, is it a bad deal? Absolutely not. It’s an outright steal.

      Every contract signed carries with it downside risk and (one hopes) upside potential. An NMC just increases the downside risk.

      It’s whether the risk-reward make sense that makes a contract a good or bad deal, not whether it has an NMC.


      1. Waiting for the offseason when a buffet of goaltenders is available was the right move.

        Locking up Talbot for multiple years, overpaying him by $1M per season AND giving him a NMC is just stupid.


      2. Have you seen the list of goaltenders in your ‘buffet’? Bunch of overpaid over-the-hill veterans and mediocrity-track backups.

        Talbot is immediately at the top of that list. I have no doubt that part of the reason Chia signed Talbot now is specifically so he didn’t get to UFA, as there likely would have been a bidding war for Talbot and Reimer, the only goalies in their prime with good numbers.

        No doubt the Gordless Southern Albertans would have been at the front of the line of that bidding war.

        No thanks.

        I do hope Chia goes shopping for a good backup if Nilsson doesn’t work out. Would be happy to see Khudobin or Enroth in Oiler silks.


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