Chris Mason surprised by the Jaroslav Halak trade
Yesterday’s trade that sent Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world. After all, Halak was the promising young goaltender that the Canadiens have been looking for and the one that carried the Habs on his back past the Capitals and the Penguins. Yet Pierre Gauthier made it known that the Canadiens were sticking with the frustrating Carey Price.
But when Blues incoming general manager Doug Armstrong contacted the Canadiens recently, he learned the unexpected. “The initial call was just to say, ‘We may be in the market for a goaltender,’” Armstrong said. “They had two young goaltenders. I asked (Pierre Gauthier) what direction he was going to go in. He told me he was going to keep Carey and make Jaro available. That spurred the conversation to the first phase of the assets he would need back.”
“It was just a matter of getting confirmation and getting everything in order. It was delayed a couple of times and now we know the reason why. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was disappointing. I loved being a St. Louis Blue and I thought I was going to continue to be.”
Still, once you get a look at what has happening behind the scenes the fact that he Habs traded Halak should come as no surprise. Doug Armstrong hinted that the Habs had made the decision to stick with Price early on in the offseason, and agent Alan Walsh has said that he had no negotiations with the Canadiens on a contract for Halak -- even after he took his team to the brink of the Stanley Cup finals.
But what about the return? Halak is set to be a RFA, but you would have expected the Canadiens to be able to get more than a few top prospects for his rights. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail says that the goaltender market had a say in what the Habs could get for Halak:
There are going to be a lot of servicable goalies available and it could even be that the players are fighting each other to try to get the few No. 1 roles out there. Here’s a quick idea of the 10 top netminders set to become free agents on July 1:
Nabokov, Turco, Niittymaki, Mason, Ellis, Leighton, Theodore, Biron, Hedberg and Emery
There are also a few backups beyond that as well, meaning that it’s quite likely we see several goaltenders unable to find NHL teams this summer.