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Wild trade goaltender Cam Talbot to Ottawa Senators on eve of free agency

In return, the Wild will receive young goaltender Filip Gustavsson from the Senators.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period March 3 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Wild traded Talbot to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday afternoon.
David Berding / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL — The discontentment from goaltender Cam Talbot’s camp started to crystalize soon after the Wild re-signed future Hall of Fame goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury last week. His agent George Bazos had a spirited discussion with Wild general manger Bill Guerin at the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal, which made it pretty clear that Talbot was none too pleased with the situation at hand.

That said, Guerin maintained his commitment to his goaltender at that time, emphasizing his desire for a 50-50 split between Fleury and Talbot next season.

“The bottom line is like these guys are under contract,” Guerin said at the time. “I have faith in Cam that he’s going to be OK. I’m not going to make a big deal out of this.”

In the end, Guerin had a change of heart, flipping the 35-year-old Talbot to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night in a trade for young goaltender Filip Gustavsson. Though there was never a formal trade request from Talbot, Guerin said he didn’t want to put anyone in an awkward position next season.

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“Sometimes it’s best to just move on,” Guerin said. “We don’t want to create drama. I know Cam, he’s a no B.S. guy, and so am I, so let’s just try to make everybody happy here and part ways.”

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In that same breath, Guerin reiterated his respect for Talbot, praising him for everything he’s done for the Wild over the past couple of seasons.

“He’s a big part of where our culture is today,” Guerin said. “It’s not that he would have been a problem. Just sometimes there’s a little awkwardness and that’s not always the best thing.”

The move clears up some cap space for the Wild as Talbot’s $3.67 million cap hit is exchanged for Gustavsson’s $787,500 cap hit. That should allow the Wild to go shopping when free agency opens at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The move is also emblematic of the continued culture shift within the Wild locker room. If someone doesn’t want to be on the team, no matter who it is, Guerin doesn’t want him around.

“I can’t stress that enough,” Guerin said. “We’re putting the team ahead of anybody’s individual wants and needs. It’s all about the team.”

In a couple of seasons with the Wild as the unquestioned starter, Talbot posted a 51-20-9 record to go along with a 2.71 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage. He was very good down the stretch last season before ceding the net to Fleury in the playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.

That seemed to irk Talbot at the time, and while he remained professional through it all, he admitted his frustration after the Wild bowed to the Blues in the first round. Those feelings were further exacerbated when the Wild opted to re-sign Fleury last week.

Not that Guerin bent to anyone’s will with this decision.

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“I was in no way, shape, or form obligated to do anything,” Guerin said. “If we would’ve decided to keep him, we would’ve kept him and worked through it. I think people want to make this more of a story than it really is. It’s just a feeling I got that it wouldn’t work.”

As for the 24-year-old Gustavsson, he finished last season with a 5-12-1 record, 3.55 goals against average, and a .892 save percentage.

“I’m thrilled be be reunited with Filip,” said Guerin, who confirmed that Gustavsson will be the backup next season “I was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins (in 2016) when we drafted him before he was traded to the Senators, so I’m very excited to be reunited with him again. He’s a young kid that shows a lot of promise.”

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