New York Islanders: Evaluating Goaltending Going Forward

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Jaroslav Halak
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Jaroslav Halak /

One of the biggest problems the New York Islanders have faced in the 2017-2018 season has been their goaltending. With Jaroslav Halak’s contract coming to an end, their need for a number one goalie will only grow this summer.

For the past two seasons, the New York Islanders have struggled to properly handle their goaltending situation. From a three-goalie crisis to wildly inconsistent performances to hastily given contracts, the team has faced no shortage of issues.

In the 2017-2018 season, the Islanders have the highest GAA in the entire National Hockey League at 3.49 and a total of 226 goals allowed. It goes without saying that this is a problem.

Now that the trade deadline has passed without much movement from Garth Snow and none concerning goaltending, it is time to reevaluate the players in our system already and how to address this issue going forward.

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Thomas Greiss

While both goaltenders had an underwhelming start to the season, Thomas Greiss’ season so far has been the biggest disappointment. With a .891 SV% through 24 games played, there is little to be said for Greiss. These numbers are especially discouraging when you consider the contract he was recently given.

For a time, it looked like Greiss could be a feasible replacement as a number one goalie for Jaroslav Halak. His performance in the 2016 playoffs and his hand in keeping the 2016-2017 team afloat gave fans more confidence between the pipes. He clearly impressed management as well, early a 3.3 million dollar contract starting this year.

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While he is only signed through 2020 at a fairly reasonable price, the situation becomes bleak when you realize that he could be the only NHL goalie under contract with the Islanders after this season.

The case can be made for giving Greiss another chance at the starting job and hoping for a strong bounce-back season. Because of injuries to Halak, Greiss was given almost all of the responsibility in net for the New York Islanders for an entire year. His poor season could simply be a result of exhaustion, a problem eased by having a reliable backup goalie. However, the Islanders may not be in the position to take that chance.

Jaroslav Halak

Unlike Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak seems to have been able to turn his season around. Although he began the year fighting for his starting position, Halak has now rebounded back to a .908 SV%. While this is not the most impressive statistic, the netminder cannot take all the blame when taking the Islanders disaster defense into account.

The question then becomes: should the New York Islanders re-sign Jaroslav Halak? While the plan seemed to always be to let him walk when his current contract expired, it seems dangerous now to let him reach free agency with such so much uncertainty concerning those in the team’s system.

Acclaimed Islanders prospect Ilya Sorokin is still several seasons away from making the move to the NHL – if he ever does – and while players like Gibson and Söderström are impressing, they still have not proven that they’re ready for such heavy responsibility on a major league team.

The trade deadline seemed to be the time for action and to address these concerns. However, fans saw nothing of the kind. Instead, Islanders fans watched as goalie Petr Mrazek was traded for nothing more than two conditional draft picks.

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While Mrazek would not have been the answer to all of the team’s goaltending woes, a trade for him would have at least provided some more certainty concerning the position for the team in the future. Now the Islanders are faced with a decision: do they extend Halak’s contract, give Greiss a second shot or take a chance with the free market?