New York Islanders netminder Jaroslav Halak is likely to be the odd man out of the Isles three-man goalie tandem. But finding a trade partner is easier said than done.
It’s been no secret that Jaroslav Halak is not a fan of the New York Islanders goaltender situation in Brooklyn. To be fair to the 31-year-old Slovakian, he was brought in from Washington to fill the number one spot. So, now having to potentially share duties may be unpalatable.
It’s not like Halak has performed badly enough to deserve his starter job to be taken away from him. In 2015-16, Halak had a 2.30 GAA and a .919 SV% and 36 games played before he went down with injury.
Which is where the problems for Halak started because backup Thomas Greiss took charge of the starting duties and played magnificently both in the remainder of the regular season and into the post-season.
Greiss’ play combined with the fact that Halak carries a cap hit $3 million over Greiss’, pushes Halak closer to the door than to the crease. But securing a move hinges on finding a partner looking for a good starter with a relatively cap friendly deal.
The Perfect Trade Partner for Halak
The immediate candidate that comes to mind are the Calgary Flames. This is a team that is desperate need of a starting goalie.
In 2015-16, the Calgary Flames finished with the worst goaltending record in the league. The Flames save percentage .892, was a full percentage point bellow the next lowest ranked team; the Carolina Hurricanes with .902.
A percentage point doesn’t sound like much. But add that percentage point to the Carolina Hurricanes total and suddenly they jump from 29th to 15th. Probably getting good enough goaltending to make a run at a playoff spot.
Now consider that Calgary has none of their goalies from 2015-16 currently on the books for next season and the need for a backup intensifies. Joni Ortio is an RFA and could be signed on the cheap for Calgary, but UFA Karri Ramo is likely done in Canadian oil country.
What are the Terms of the Trade?
This is where, like all trades, it gets a bit dicey. Every team wants more for less, it’s just finding that common ground where both teams can feel like they aren’t the losers in the deal.
The Islanders are going to want depth forwards and some picks to replenish the draft cupboard from the Flames in return for a starting goaltender.
If at all possible the Isles should first inquire about Swedish center, Mikael Backlund. Backlund is coming off a 47 points campaign with the Flames and carries a $3.575 million cap hit. He can play down the middle and much as he can play on the left flank.
A straight trade would be enviable, but most likely improbable with Calgary likely holding out for more. The next ask should come to Lance Bouma and Calgary’s second-round pick in 2016 with a conditional third based on Halak’s performance.
Bouma is coming off a weak year with seven points in 44 games, after a great 2015-16 season that saw him net 34 points. His addition would be to sure up that fourth-line in the all but likelihood that Matt Martin leaves in free agency.
The picks are where the true value lies. In this year’s draft Calgary has the fifth pick and 35th overall in the second round. The Islanders don’t have a second-round pick in 2016. They pick 19th and then don’t select again till the fourth round.
The ability of being able to pick in the second and so soon into the second round means the Islanders can select someone of quality. According to DraftSite, the Flames are in line to pick Brett Howden at 35.
Howden stands at 6’2″ and weighs 190lbs at a young age of 18. He scored 64 points for his Moose Jaw Warriors in 2015-16. By no means NHL ready, but certainly has NHL quality. Having him in the prospects pool sets up the Islanders nicely in the future.
Should the New York Islanders look to trade Halak, their first call should be to Calgary. The Flames are desperate for a starting goalie to at least put up some average numbers, and the Islanders have one in Halak at a bargain price.