On a day the Montreal Canadiens play the Ottawa Senators, I figured it’d be topical to discuss Jaroslav Halak’s trade value. Of course, this is all speculation on my part. I’m merely putting two and two together.
It’s clear something has to give with the Montreal Canadiens having two NHL caliber starting goalies in Halak and Carey Price. Things thicken quickly as neither goalie has a contract beyond this season. Both are set to become RFAs on July 1, 2010 thanks in large part to Habs GM Bob Gainey and his no mid-season negotiations policy (nice one, Bob).
We all know the story with Halak. But here’s a quick timeline in case you forgot:
- November: Halak’s agent – Alan Walsh – blasted Price on Twitter, suggesting Halak deserved more starts than the struggling Price. It should be noted there were some rumours suggesting Walsh was pushing Gainey to resign or trade Halak. Nice to see Walsh playing the subtle card…
- December: Gainey confirms he’s looked into trading Halak to the Flyers. Gainey indicated he’s looking for a top 6 forward in return for Halak, but might not be able to get it. Gainey later commented that the Huet trade to Washington a few years ago got him a 2nd round draft pick and is comparable to the Halak situation.
- Mid December: In an interview, Halak says he’s a team player, likes Montreal, but wants to be a starting goalie – in Montreal or elsewhere.
- Late December: Halak goes from playing well to flat out nuts. In his last 4 starts, Halak is 4-0 with a goals against average of 1.50 and an incredible save percentage of .970.
Halak’s Real Value
So what’s Halak’s real value? It’s not the 2nd round pick mentioned back in October and it’s probably not a top flight star the stats above might get you at this very moment. Let’s be real, no goalie finishes a season with a save percentage of .970. Having said that, Halak’s stats do merit top 6 forward consideration. Add in the pressure of playing for Canada’s hockey team (had to throw that in there, Leafs fans) and Halak’s future potential (the kid is 24 years old). Halak could easily be one of the more sought after commodities this winter. Simply put, he’s a rising star and probably the best available goalie in the NHL right now.
While it seems no NHL team is willing to let go of a top 6 forward (now or at any point in the season), the oft mentioned Flyers have the depth to do it. Again, me speculating here, but a Jeff Carter for Jaroslav Halak trade seems pretty reasonable. I think that’s the level of Halak’s real value. Now before Flyers or Habs fans jump all over me, hear me out.
Flyers fans: Halak is a solid starting NHL goalie. He’s a better goalie than anyone the Flyers have had in the last 5+ years (that includes Ray Emery, despite pretty good play prior to injury). The Flyers have talented young forwards like Claude Giroux and James vanRiemsdyk that could absorb the loss of Carter. The trade would also free up significant cap space as Carter makes $5 Million this year and $5.5 Million next year. I’m guessing Halak could be signed to a 3-5 year deal with a cap hit of $3-$4 Million per season. (Purely speculation from me, but I think it’s reasonable).
Habs fans: I don’t expect much arguing from Habs fans; this would be a huge acquisition for the Canadiens. A 6’3 Center with proven goalscoring abilities… actually, I’d like to hear any arguments from Habs fans on this.
As I said at the top of this article, this is all my speculation. Maybe they keep Halak and trade Price, but I doubt that. The Habs certainly have a high quality asset to move between now and the March 3rd trade deadline (or between the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and July 1st) and it’s probably going to cost a top 6 forward (or a seriously high draft pick/top prospect). Whether or not this includes Jeff Carter, my sense is Gainey will get his asking price. The question is when.
Stay classy, Jaroslav Halak.