Jaroslav Halak

Report: Bruins sign backup Halak to two-year deal

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Report: Bruins sign backup Halak to two-year deal

One backup goaltender exits the folds, and another one enters. That’s typically how things go in the NHL free agency world, and that’s what’s going to happen with the Black and Gold where Jaroslav Halak is poised to replace Anton Khudobin as the backup goalie for Tuukka Rask in Boston. 

Khudobin has agreed to a two-year contract with the Dallas Stars for roughly $2.5 million per season to be their backup goalie, a raise of over $1 million per season from his last contract with the Black and Gold. That’s a healthy raise for a goaltender that didn’t show up for B’s training camp in shape in his first season back with the club, and ended up getting bounced to Providence in the middle of the season before turning things around at the end of the year. 

That put the Bruins in a tough spot where they now need to replace a backup goalie in Khudobin that was stellar backing up Tuukka Rask last year, and in a situation where the backup is going to have to play at least 25 games next season. So the Bruins have turned to 33-year-old Jaroslav Halak with a two-year deal, according to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, that will be finalized now that free agency has opened on Sunday afternoon. 

The Czech-born Halak is coming off his worst NHL season where he posted a .908 save percentage and a 3.19 goals against average while allowing a career-high 161 goals with the Islanders last season. But Halak is clearly a higher quality goaltender than Khudobin with nearly 500 career NHL appearances along with 42 career shutouts, and has been a starter in his NHL career with the Canadiens, the St. Louis Blues, the Washington Capitals and the Islanders. 

Halak has been streaky in his 10 plus year in the league, of course, but his .916 career save percentage is better than Khudobin’s .913 save percentage last year in what amounts to his best season at the NHL level. Halak was played internationally with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Czech National teams and has plenty of past experience with Bruins roving goaltending instructor Mike Dunham during their team in the Isles organization. 

The bottom line: a multi-year deal for $2.5 million per season is too much for a pretty inconsistent goalie in Khudobin despite last season’s moments of brilliance. Halak is a better goaltender than Khudobin even if he’s been up-and-down with a bad defensive team in the Isles over the last few years, and could actually, really push Rask in a way that he’s never been challenged by career backups like Khudobin, Chad Johnson, Niklas Svedberg or Jonas Gustavsson over the last five plus years.  

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Bruins pull away in third period for 5-1 win over Islanders

Bruins pull away in third period for 5-1 win over Islanders

NEW YORK -- Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask helped the Boston Bruins keep up their winning ways to start the new year.

Bergeron had the go-ahead goal in the second period and the surging Bruins scored three times in the third to pull away for a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots as Boston improved to 7-0-2 in their last nine, the longest streak of games with at least a point this season.

Danton HeinenBrad MarchandTim Schaller and Noel Acciari also scored for the Bruins,

"We knew it was coming this year," Marchand said. "We had a lot of injuries and we knew we just needed some time to come together a bit, but you see the way some young guys are stepping up. It just seems like everyone is connecting. Every line has that chemistry."

Jordan Eberle had New York's goal and Jaroslav Halak finished with 33 saves as the Islanders lost their third straight. Josh Bailey was held without a point, ending his career-high streak at 11 games.

New York was 5-8-2 in December and the latest loss pushed the Islanders out of a playoff position with Carolina picking up a point in a shootout loss to Washington and having a game in hand.

"Adversity is hitting us between the eyes right now as a group, as a staff, as players," Islanders coach Doug Weight said. "We've got to find a way. If you're going to use words like flat or a little sluggish at times in the second or third it's concerning, but it's not going away.

"We have three really big games and we have to figure it out."

After being outshot 12-9 in the first period, the Bruins held the Islanders to just 14 shots through the final 40 minutes and beat them for the second time in two meetings this season.

"We just tried to stick to our game plan and our systems," Boston's Sean Kuraly said. "Be quick through the neutral zone and hold onto pucks down low, and be a good puck possession team. I think for most of the game we did that."

It was a fluky goal from Bergeron that put the Bruins ahead 2-1 in the second. A centering pass to Marchand took a funny deflection right to Bergeron on the side of the net and the Bruins' forward banked it in off Halak at 8:28. Marchand got his 200th career assist on the play.

Marchand then got his 16th goal at 9:04 of the third after the Islanders turned over the puck and David Pastrnak led an odd-man rush to make it 3-1.

Schaller deflected the puck out of the air to give the Bruins a three-goal lead with just under five minutes left in the game, and Accaiari added an empty-netter with 2:13 remaining.

"We know they're down a few guys, so you have to force those young kids to make plays," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I don't think we turned it over much. If we did we reloaded pretty well. That was a bit of the game plan, force them to break out and go 200 feet.

"When we get buzzing we're a decent forechecking team. We have some heavy lines and even our skilled lines are good at handling the puck."

The Bruins extended their record to 12-1-2 in their last 15 contests against Eastern Conference opponents.

Boston opened the scoring with a goal off a draw in the middle of the first period. Riley Nash won the faceoff and the puck went right to Heninen, who fired the puck past Halak at 8:17.

Eberle evened the score just over a minute later after he forced a turnover in front of the net and slid the puck past the extended leg of Rask for his 14th.

NOTES: The NHL announced Tuesday that Rask was named first star for December and Bailey was the second star. ... The Bruins scratched forwards Anders Bjork and Paul Postma and defenseman Frank Vatrano. ... Forward Tanner Fritz made his NHL debut against Boston after the Islanders called him up from the AHL on Monday. ... Forward Alan Quine and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg were scratched for New York.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Thursday night.

Islanders: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.

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Bruins looking at goalies, kicked tires on Halak

Bruins looking at goalies, kicked tires on Halak

Bruins GM Don Sweeney made no secret that he’s made inquiries into shoring up his goaltending depth, and that could be the one move that Boston definitely makes ahead of Wednesday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline.

The Bruins have kicked the tires on New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, who is currently dominating in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after getting shipped to the American Hockey League earlier this season. The 31-year-old Slovakian is 14-2-1 with a .933 save percentage and a 1.91 goals against average for Bridgeport after posting a .904 save percentage and 3.23 goals against average in 21 games for the Islanders this season, and the B’s talent evaluators have had a long look at Halak in plenty of head-to-head matchups with Providence over the last couple of months.

Sweeney didn’t confirm the interest in Halak while speaking with reporters on Tuesday night ahead of the deadline, but one can connect the dots knowing there aren’t many goalies on the trade market at this point in time.  

“Anton [Khudobin] has played well for us in the last couple of starts,” said Sweeney. “I think it’s an area…it was certainly an area of concern for us. I’ve had some discussions [about trades for backup goalies], yes.”

According to NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, the Oilers and Flames are also interested suitors for Halak’s services while similarly looking to upgrade their NHL goaltending situation. So why won’t Halak ultimately move to Boston if it doesn’t happen? Well, for one Khudobin has won back-to-back games and started straightening out his game after struggling this season while getting bounced between the NHL and AHL earlier this season.

There’s also the odd fact that the Islanders and Bruins are pitted in competition for a potential wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and Garth Snow may not easily give out a helping hand to Sweeney and the Bruins in this case. So the Bruins would probably have to overpay in terms of assets for a goalie in Halak that would only be useful for the final 19 regular season games of this season, and then Boston would also be on  the hook for him all of next year as well.

That’s a potentially high price to pay if the Bruins believe that Khudobin has turned a corner, and they may be able to get through the rest of this season without being forced into calling up Zane McIntyre or Malcolm Subban again this season before they’re ready.