Yesterday afternoon, the Islanders announced that they acquired Goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals in exchange for the Chicago Blackhawks 2014 4th round Pick (previously attained for the pair of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin). This affords the Islanders 2 months of exclusive negotiations with the impending UFA goalie. But really it's a 1 month exclusive, because if the Islanders can't come to a deal by June 1st, they'll likely punt him for another pick and go after their next G on the list whoever that might be (James Reimer?). But, the Islanders have spent nothing to attain his services considering what Washington had to give up to attempt a sprint to the playoffs (Neuvirth+), granted there were games to play in Washington, but the Islanders have landed essentially their starting net minder for a minimal pick in a less than deep draft. There's nothing wrong with this deal.
Halak played in 52 games this year between the aforementioned Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and the San Jose Sharks of the Central Division: the St Louis Blues. Halak finished the year 29-13-7. With St Louis he was 24-9-4 with a .917 SV%, significantly better than any of the Islanders triumvirate in goal. Halak also finished the year with a 2.52 GAA, so he's capable of full-time duties and saving a game. As the unquestioned Starter, this move is great for the Islanders and Halak, who at 28 is capable of taking the reins for a number of years. For his career, Halak is 144-85-29 with a .918 SV% and a 2.38 GAA. He and fellow Blue Brian Elliot combined to win the William Jennings trophy to the Goalies that combine for the best Save percentage.
Art Staple picked up the following quotes from GM Garth Snow in reply to today's trade, making it known that Halak will not be the sole G acquisition this summer:
#Isles GM Garth Snow on Halak: "He's a guy we think highly of and give our best effort to get him signed. We're trying to address a need."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) May 1, 2014
If #Isles sign Halak, Snow says he's not done at G. "Right now we have 0 goalies signed. Probably not wise to go into a season w/ 1 goalie."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) May 1, 2014
Garth Snows needs to hit multiple Home Runs this offseason with a possible change in ownership as well as the palatial step back the Islanders made this year going from contender to pretender after last offseason that saw minimal movement and an over-confidence in a group that squeaked into the playoffs and dropped from a 6 seed to an 8 in the final weeks of the season. This trade for Halak is a solo shot in the beginning of the game. Signing him to a contract, literally any contract will be his next solo shot in the new offseason. Still a few more dingers needed...this is Garth's version of Yankee Baseball, he HAS to hit multiple home runs this offseason, and he's off to a good start.
Halak signing would also break a nasty streak of the Islanders not getting their man even when they get exclusive rights to him for any length of time. The team targeted Christian Ehrhoff to join them after the 2012 season, trading a pick for his rights to Vancouver only to lose them a week later when he was shipped to Buffalo and given a 10 year deal, which so far is one of many albatrosses that got Darcy Regier fired. Halak signing would break the cycle and signaling to UFAs not on the level of Matt Carkner that the Islanders mean business and will eb competitive, in addition to paying top dollar for it guys (which has been established by attempts to sign guys like: Paul Martin, Dan Hamhuis, Anton Volchenkov to name a few).
Garth Snow has started his offseason with a bang adding a starting quality net minder once the team locks Halak to a contract. It'll be interesting to see what term and AAV the goalie will get. with no major options to challenge (and no goalies signed at the moment), any length of contract will fall between 4 and 6 years, lets say 5, and for term, he's likely to make anywhere from 4.5 to 5.75 Million, I don't think he's a $6M player, but the Isles can...in a pinch...go big on Slovak national Goalie. Even if it means skewing the UFA market for other Goalies and forcing overpays for the likes of Ryan Miller or Jonas Hiller. The Isles need to get a deal done with Halak quickly.