His team leads the NHL in penalty killing at 92.3 percent, but Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy wasn’t completely satisfied with that statistic heading into the meat of Colorado’s schedule.
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So, citing a need for overall forward depth and added potency to an already strong shorthanded unit, the Avalanche acquired forward Maxime (MAC-seam) Talbot from the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday morning before heading to Texas for a Friday night game against Dallas.
Colorado surrendered in the trade right wing Steve Downie, who returns to the club that drafted him in the first round (29th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
“Talbot has won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, he’s a great penalty killer, [and] we feel that he’s going to bring a lot of depth to our team,” Roy said. “He’s a guy that has performed also really well in the playoffs, and we think he’ll be a great addition to this team.
“Philly wanted Steve Downie back, and we thought that was the price to pay to get Talbot.”
Talbot, 29, had appeared in all 11 games this season for the Flyers, tallying a goal and an assist, and he was considered their top forward on penalty kills. The Lemoyne, Quebec native has scored 77 goals and notched 77 assists (154 points) in 515 career games with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which selected Talbot in the eighth round (234th overall) in the 2002 draft.
He and his fiancée are expecting a child in February.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed,” Talbot said Thursday afternoon via conference call. “It’s the first time at the professional level that I’ve experienced a trade. It’s kind of nerve-wracking a little bit to get the phone call in the afternoon and then four hours later you’re at the airport, and you’ve got to say goodbye to your pregnant fiancée, and then you’ve got to fly to Dallas for a game tomorrow.
“It’s exciting, and I’m excited for the challenge, for sure.”
Talbot will bring with him to Denver solid playoff experience, too, after skating in 77 career playoff games, totaling 39 points (18g/21a). He scored both goals in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win against Detroit in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.
“Maxime is a veteran forward who has won a Stanley Cup and has a lot of NHL experience,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. “We look forward to him bringing that experience to our club.”
The Avalanche has killed off 36 of 39 opponent power plays this season, but the recent absence of Cody McLeod—who’s eligible to play again Saturday night vs. Montreal—shed some light for Roy on a penalty-kill group that might have been in for a letdown as the season wore on.
Colorado has more than held its own without one of its top penalty-killing players, but even with McLeod’s return, Roy wasn’t so sure the Avalanche could continue its shorthanded success the rest of the season.
The Avs just completed an October schedule that featured 11 games, but they’re looking at a future schedule of 14 games apiece in November, December, January and March. That doesn’t take into account the eight games in 13 days the will play in April, when it might be chasing a playoff spot.
“I thought that we were a little short in [penalty kill] players, and Talbot is very good in that regard,” Roy said. “He’s a really good PK guy, and I think that’s going to help a lot. … I don’t want to overplay some guys. I think it’s important to share the ice time, and I think Talbot is going to be very important for us.”
Roy said Talbot’s addition gives his roster some flexibility it didn’t have its first 11 games this year.
Talbot might play as a wing when teamed with Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie McGinn, or he might center Colorado’s fourth line, joining McLeod and Patrick Bordeleau.
“We have plenty of options with him,” Roy said. “He’s a centerman, and he can play both wings very easily.”
Talbot is scheduled to arrive in Dallas today and could be in Colorado’s lineup tomorrow night at American Airlines Center. He said Thursday he’s excited to join an Avalanche team having a lot of early-season success.
“Playing in Pittsburgh for so long, and even my first year in Philly, we made the playoffs every year, and you’re kind of used to that,” Talbot said. “So, last year with the short season and the start of [this] season (Philadelphia is 3-8 this season). “It’s kind of tough to go through that, but you try to battle. Obviously, being traded and having the chance to play with a team that’s created great momentum right now, it’s exciting. They’re at the top of the league, and there’s a reason for that. I got the call, and I looked at the roster, and it’s a really deep roster with young skill and will be good now and for years to come.”