Goalie Cam Talbot said he believes the Edmonton Oilers can contend for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
"I don't think we're that far off from making the playoffs, to be honest with you," Talbot told Sportsnet on Monday. "I think one more piece [on defense], and we've got all the talent up front we've always had, and added more talent via free agency and the draft. When you shore up the back end, which is what Peter's (general manager Chiarelli) trying to do, as long as I do my part I think we could definitely battle for a playoff spot this year and next year and go from there."
The Oilers made adjustments this summer after missing the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season. Chiarelli addressed a void on defense with the acquisition of Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils in a trade for forward Taylor Hall on June 29. Edmonton also signed free agent forward Milan Lucic on July 1 and selected right wing Jesse Puljujarvi with the fourth pick of the 2016 NHL Draft in hopes of improving an offense that finished 26th in the League with 2.43 goals per game last season.
The moves have Talbot confident that the Oilers, who have forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, are trending upward. McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, had 48 points in 45 games as a rookie last season.
Edmonton's defense was 27th in the League last season, allowing 2.95 goals against per game, a big reason Chiarelli traded Hall, their leading scorer with 26 goals and 65 points, for Larsson. Selected fourth in the 2011 draft, Larsson had three goals and 18 points in 82 games with the Devils last season.
Video: Chatting with Oilers' goaltender Cam Talbot
"Definitely a loss for us, but we need to fill a void on defense," Talbot said. "To get a kid like Larsson, a young kid coming up who's steady defensively, that's the kind of guy we need on our team. Hopefully he can grow in that role and it can be a beneficial trade for both sides.
"It's tough to give away a guy like Taylor, but the return for a good defenseman is high this summer. You have to give up something to get someone good, and I think we did that. I'm not sure Peter's done yet, so we'll see what other pieces he can put in place here to point us in the right direction."
Talbot was acquired by the Oilers in a trade with the New York Rangers on June 27, 2015 and signed a three-year contract reportedley worth $12 million on Jan. 17. Following a slow start, Talbot won 21 games (53 starts), the most by an Oilers goalie since Dwayne Roloson won 28 in 2008-09.
"Mentally it's a bit challenging when you're not winning as often," Talbot said. "As we grow as a team, the wins are going to come. If I get on a roll, I can play 65 games this year and my body will be great. Should be a lot of fun."