And they made the right decision.
Yesterday, the Montreal Canadiens traded Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.
A lot of people see this as a bad trade. I don’t.
I wrote the following before this year’s playoffs:
“Halak went on huge winning streaks against poor teams, which inflated his numbers. For example, last October he went on a four-game winning streak, defeating the Rangers, Thrashers and the Islanders twice. He won six of seven in December/January, beating the Islanders, Thrashers, Hurricanes, Leafs and the Panthers twice, but losing to the Sens. And in March, he went on a six game winning streak, winning against the Kings, Ducks, Lightning, Oilers, Bruins and Rangers.
Notice any patterns? During those streaks, he played against some of the worst teams in the league. Add up those streaks, and he won 16 games. And of those 16 wins, only two were against playoff teams.
When it came to playing the tough teams, the Canadiens leaned on Price. Price has played all four games against the Capitals, played three of four games against the Penguins, and played the team’s lone games against Detroit, Chicago and San Jose.”
What does all this mean? That Halak struggles against good teams. And in the Western conference, he’ll be facing a lot of good teams (except for the Oilers).
And if you look at Halak’s playoffs, yes, they were great. But he benefitted from a team that bought into a system. They players in front of him blocked a lot of shots, and forced the opposition to shoot from the outside, where Halak could see most of the shots. When teams started screening and going to the net (such as the Philadelphia Flyers), the Habs system was doomed to fail.
I think in the long run, Price will be the better goalie, and that’s why the Habs had to trade Halak.
A lot of fans thought the Habs could have gotten more for Halak, but the market actually proves the opposite.
If the Habs could have gotten more, don’t you think they would have taken that deal? If the Flyers offered Jeff Carter, do you really think the Habs would have said “No thanks, we’re going to take this other offer instead?” My guess is this was the best deal that could get done.
Don’t forget, there’s more #1 goalies on the market this summer than teams that need them. Nabakov, Huet, Turco, Mason, Theodore, Ellis, Emery, and maybe Toskala and Biron if you think they are #1 goalies. That’s seven #1 goalies, plus two other former #1 goalies. And that also doesn’t include prospect Corey Schneider in Vancouver, who would probably be starting for a lot teams right about now.
How many teams need #1 goalies? Five? Flyers, Atlanta, Tampa, Blues and Sharks are the only ones who may be looking for a new starter. The Blues had Chris Mason, so they didn’t really need to get another #1. And the Sharks have some good goalies in their system.
If the Habs had waited too long, there would have been no market for either goalie, as teams would have gone the free agent route.
Others are worried about Price’s attitude, but Price has taken everything handed to him in stride. He goes from #1 to the backup, did he complain or demand to be traded? No. He went to practice, worked hard, and chided another player who wouldn’t do the same. What happened when Halak went from #1 to backup? He demanded to be traded.
So in the end, I think Price is going to be the better goalie in the future. And if that’s the case, then Halak had to be the one that had to be traded.