I was out most of today and missed the Halak trade break. Thanks to Twitter, I was able to read a blow-by-blow account of the deal occurring on my phone after the fact, and I started to jot down a few thoughts that I had on the deal, which I will now share with you. First and foremost, the goalie market in the NHL is officially dead. If the waiving of Ilya Bryzgalov a few years ago was the first sign of the lack of value goalies carry in the NHL (to me, it isn’t the ‘new’ NHL any longer), the Halak trade was the final nail in the goalie market coffin.
Halak is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights (meaning he will probably won’t sign for anything less than $4 million per season), but he just led an undermanned and undersized Montreal team past both Washington and Pittsburgh in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In no particular order...
1. The West gets stronger. The Blues improve mightily for the 2010-11 season. The Central Division now features Halak, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi, Jimmy Howard, and Steve Mason. Five pretty good young goalies.
2. Good drafting helps. Lars Eller is a terrific prospect. Many teams wouldn’t be able to move a quality offensive prospect and not skip a beat, but thanks to good drafting, the Blues had that luxury. TJ Oshie, David Perron, David Backes, Patrik Berglund, the list goes on.
3. Lars Eller. Aside from Jordan Eberle, Eller might be the most NHL ready prospect not in the league right now. He is big, strong, physical, solid defensively, boasts a terrific shot, and he sees the ice very well. He isn’t overly flashy, but he projects as a very capable second line center. He is a lock to make Montreal this fall – expect him to start off on the third line, but that could change if Tomas Plekanec is not re-signed.
4. The Carey Price obsession. All along, Montreal management has favoured Price. He has been the organization’s golden boy since being taken 5th overall in 2005. A lot of the criticism he has received over the past two years has been unwarranted. Hopefully Montreal brings in a steady, capable veteran (someone like Martin Biron) to help Price with his off-ice maturity and professionalism. He is a hell of a goalie and there are many out there who favour him over Halak (Dobber being one) in the long run.
5. The goalie market is dead. How does this impact the league going forward? Aside from the stars (Jack Campbell in the 2010 draft), I don’t see goalies going often during the first two rounds. Look at Cory Schneider – he was drafted out of high school in the 1st round by the Canucks in 2004, and he has developed into a fantastic young goalie. However, the Canucks would probably be lucky to get a 2nd round pick for him right now. Six years after drafting him, he is worth less than the asset used to select him in the first place. It’s not just Schneider either. The Kings probably won’t get much in return for Jonathan Quick if they decide to move him. It seems like the best way to get a goalie in the NHL is to wait until a team has two quality starters and then bounce (Miikka Kiprusoff, Tomas Vokoun, Craig Anderson, and so on).