Over the weekend, the New York Islanders made it known that Jaroslav Halak is on the market. While there have been conflicting reports regarding the level of interest they have received so far, it’s fair to suggest that the interest has been lukewarm at best. On the surface, that may seem surprising considering Halak’s track record and a cap hit below that of most starting goalies ($4.5MM) but unfortunately for the Isles, this is not a great time to be shopping a goaltender with term left on his contract.
Teams are only allowed to protect one goaltender in next June’s Las Vegas expansion draft. As a result, any team interested in Halak would have to keep any of their incumbent goaltenders unprotected (unless they’re exempt due to two years of pro experience or less) or risk losing Halak less than a year after acquiring him. That has to be factored into any acquisition cost from the perspective of other teams and that certainly won’t work in New York’s favor.
Lack Of Vacancies
While the Kings are in a tough spot right now with Jonathan Quick on the shelf, it’s still too early in the season for most teams to make a call on looking at a potential new starting netminder. There are teams that are struggling between the pipes at the moment but they will likely show a bit more patience before deciding whether or not to make a move.
Plenty Of Other Options
There already or are expected to be several goalies that will be available at some point this season. Despite his hot start, the Red Wings would likely want to divest themselves of the remaining two plus years on Jimmy Howard’s contract at just under $5.3MM while Dallas’ goalie tandem of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen is high priced ($10.4MM combined) especially relative to their production; it’s certainly plausible that either of them could be dangled. Then there’s Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh who holds a no-move clause and a $5.75MM cap hit but it’s believed the Penguins will eventually move on from him after handing Matt Murray a three year extension last month in order to ensure they can protect Murray in June.
And then there are the rental players. Ben Bishop ($5.95MM) doesn’t appear to be staying in Tampa Bay past this season with Andrei Vasilevskiy their starter-in-waiting. Ryan Miller ($6MM) in Vancouver is off to a really nice start but isn’t likely in their future plans either. Ondrej Pavelec ($3.9MM) in Winnipeg is believed to be available as well and wouldn’t cost as much to acquire especially since he’s currently in the minor leagues, passing through waivers thanks to his contract. If teams are just looking for help this season, they may look at the potential rental players before going after goalies signed beyond this year.
Halak is a legitimate starting goaltender in the NHL and could certainly help quite a few teams around the league. However, given the timing of his availability and the plethora of other options out there, GM Garth Snow may be in for a challenge if he wants to get top value in return.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.