Earlier today the New York Islanders finally did what many have expected for a few weeks now. The struggling Jaroslav Halak, who has been in a three-way goalie battle for more than a year, was placed on waivers and will likely be sent to the AHL.
We want to give Thomas [Greiss] and JF [Berube] an opportunity to play, get ice time. Obviously get a chance to get some wins that we desperately need.
You’re looking for ways to help the team any way that you can, that may be to get a boost of confidence, build some momentum and ultimately win hockey games.
Halak, who is still only 31 years old, has played outstanding at times throughout his career. Getting Vezina trophy votes in two different seasons before coming to New York, the netminder set a franchise record with 38 wins in his first season with the team.
If Halak does clear and is sent to the minors, Snow expects big things:
Coming to the rink and being the hardest worker, having a great attitude, that’s something that doesn’t matter who you are and what position you play and what role you have in the organization, that’s what we expect out of everyone in this organization. We expect nothing less form Jaro in that regard.
Obviously Halak isn’t done at his relatively young age, and should make his way back to the NHL at some point – perhaps even this year. He’s also an intriguing candidate for some teams around the league who lack stability in net. Calgary, Los Angeles and Dallas among others have uncertainty in goal, and though Halak wouldn’t be a clear upgrade on paper the way he’s played this season, perhaps just a change of scenery would be enough to spark him.
The problem, is that Halak carries a $4.5MM cap hit this year and next, while being owed even more actual salary due to the back-loaded nature of his deal. Even though the Islanders are clearly willing to move on, they’d likely have to eat some of that money or kick in a prospect. Not an easy pill to swallow for a team looking to work it’s way back into playoff picture next year, if not sooner.
For Berube in particular, the move to waive Halak means more time in net. After playing just four games so far this season, Snow made it clear he’ll play more.
[After the break] it becomes a condensed schedule again and you need more than one goalie to carry the mail. It’s not the NHL of old when a goalie could play 70, 75 games, there are just too many games in a short span of time.