Friday, June 18, 2010

Turning Their Back to Halak

The Deal:
To St. Louis - Rights to G Jaroslav Halak
To Montreal: F Lars Eller, F Ian Schultz

What St. Louis gets:

A 25 year old Slovakian playoff hero. Halak is a calm, positional goalie despite his smallish frame at 5ft 11in and 179lbs. He has recently proved himself to be able to deal with extremely high amounts of pressure in Montreal. After nabbing the number one job from Carey Price he never looked back and managed to shut down two of the league's best in Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. He is currently an restricted free agent and will undoubtedly being looking for a considerable raise on his 0.8 million contract last year. However, with the Blues having nearly 30 million in cap space (2nd most in NHL), there should be no issues. A fan favourite for the underdog Canadiens throughout the playoffs he was finally able to prove himself over Price. A huge 53 save performance against the Capitals really backed that up. Late in 2010, Halak was also deservedly named the Molson Cup Player of the Year for Montreal. His solid play in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics can also not be forgotten, where he lead his underdog Slovaks to a respectable 4th place finish, that included wins against powerhouses Russia and Sweden, and a very close loss to champions Canada in the semis. As a result, Halak was able to clinch Slovakia's best ever finish at the Olympics. A clear competitor and now proven goalie, Halak promises to bring solid goaltending to a rising Blues squad.

09-10 Stats: Montreal (NHL) - 45GP 26W 13L 5SO 2.40GAA .924SV%

What Montreal gets:
A former first round pick, Danish forward Lars Eller. Aged 21, Eller brings adequate size at 6ft 1in and 198lbs and skates well. He scoring touch is very good but he is more noticed for his playmaking ability and vision on the ice. A great two-way forward at the AHL level, he will be looking to bring this style into the NHL very soon. Gathering 84PIM last season proves Eller isn't a pushover either.

09-10 Stats: Peoria (AHL) - 70GP 18G 39A 57PTS 84PIM
St. Louis (NHL) - 7GP 2G 0A 2PTS 4PIM

A hard-nosed 19 year old of the Calgary Hitmen named Ian Schultz. Schultz brings size at 6ft 3in and 208lbs. Schultz has a good offensive upside but is much better playing as a physical winger. He has the capability to become a power forward but would also make a great grinder. Players of Schultz's style are the type you are glad to have on your team, rather than be playing against.

09-10 Stats: Calgary (WHL) - 70GP 24G 31A 55PTS 150PIM

In conclusion it is easy to say that this deal was unexpected, after the solid performance of Halak down the stretch. Although there had much talk that Montreal would drop a goalie, it seemed as though Price was now the odd man out. This puts a lot of pressure on Price to produce, and new GM Gauthier. The Blues will be very happy to accept Halak into their organization after all of the playoff hype he stirred up. Montreal fans may be devastated at first glimpse, but Price is still young and both of these prospects are promising. It seems likely that Gauthier realized that it was going to be hard to resign Halak. Let the deal play out and it may work for both sides in the coming years, but at the time Blues fans have to be pleased!


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