After two seasons, Cam Talbot is leaving the Wild.
The team traded the goaltender to Ottawa on Tuesday for goalie Filip Gustavsson, clearing up a position that had become murky in recent days after the Wild re-signed Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year, $7 million deal.
The veteran Fleury was obtained at the trade deadline and started five of the Wild’s six playoff games. His re-signing signaled he and Talbot would likely split time in goal, with Talbot preferring to be the clear No. 1.
Wild General Manager Bill Guerin said it was best to move in a different direction so “there’s no drama, no controversy.”
Gustavsson, drafted in 2016 by Pittsburgh when Guerin was the assistant GM for the Penguins, will be Talbot’s backup next season.
“He’s been a fantastic teammate, player and real leader for us,” Guerin said of Talbot.
“With what’s happened over the last little while, signing Marc-Andre Fleury, it was probably best to move in a different direction with Cam.”
Guerin said he spoke to Talbot.
“Sometimes you know in your gut that things might not work out and somebody might not be happy. I don’t want a player to be like that either, and sometimes it best to just move on,” the GM said.
“We don’t want to create drama. I know Cam, he’s a no BS guy, and so am I, so let’s just try to make everybody happy here and part ways.”
The move will clear up cap space for the Wild as NHL free agency begins at noon Wednesday.
How feasible a Fleury-Talbot tandem would be became a topic last week at the NHL draft in Montreal. In comments made to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun last week during the NHL draft, Talbot’s agent George Bazos said he and Guerin “stated our positions” and “Billy has a lot to think about.”
After bringing back Fleury, the Wild was poised to resume a rotation between the two goalies like the team had before the playoffs — a split that doesn’t indicate a clear hierarchy. Had Fleury signed elsewhere, the Wild would likely have acquired a bona fide backup to play behind Talbot.
Once the season ended, Talbot expressed the disappointment he felt at not playing more in the first round against St. Louis but said he understood the team’s decision. The 35-year-old also made it clear he wanted and expected to be back with the Wild, what with him going into the final season of a three-year, $11 million contract.
Ultimately, Talbot exits after going 51-20-9 with a 2.71 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and five shutouts through 82 regular season games over two seasons with the Wild.
Guerin said Talbot didn’t demand a trade.
“Just thinking about it more and more, I didn’t want to put our team in an awkward position,” Guerin said. “I didn’t want to put Cam or [Fleury] in an awkward position to where it got in the way of our team being successful.”
Gustavsson is coming off 16 starts with the Senators last season, going 5-12-1 with a 3.55 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage (SV%). He’s under contract for one more season, carrying a $787,500 cap hit.
The 24-year-old Swede was drafted in the second round (55th overall) by the Penguins in 2016. The Penguins traded him to Ottawa with Ian Cole (a former Wild defenseman), a first and third round draft pick for center Derick Brassard in February, 2018.
Gustavsson has played mostly with the Senators’ AHL team in Belleville, Ontario. He was 11-6-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage last season in the AHL.