The Price of Business was Halak

Before I say anything about the nuts and bolts of The Trade I’ve got to give props to Habs’ GM Pierre Gauthier. I thought he was going to sit quietly for most of the summer and make reactive trades – trades not made for top players but safe moves that would add depth.

But Gauthier made the first big splash of the summer and I respect that. He’s wasting no time putting his stamp on this team (although many will argue that Gainey would’ve done the same).

Anyhoo, now that’s out of the way :

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’m not really shocked that Jaroslav Halak was traded. And I’m not shocked that he was traded to the St. Louis Blues. But traded to the Blues for who? And who? That was a bit surprising.

Shed a tear if need be, but please stop whining and swearing and whining.

This was a business decision. Our cap situation is tight right now. Really tight. Jaroslav Halak wants to be an undisputed Number One goaltender and he wants the money to prove it. We can’t afford him. And Halak probably isn’t torn up over leaving. He did, after all, ask to be traded. Gauthier had to move him.

Look : the market for goaltenders this summer isn’t great. We had two great young netminders who would normally fetch a king’s ransom. But not this year.
PG made it clear that he was listening to offers for both goaltenders. Netminders like Chris Mason, Evengi Nabokov, and Dan Ellis will be UFAs this summer. Then there’s trade bait like Tim Thomas, maybe Tomas Vokoun, Cory Schneider, and Josh Harding, among others. PG listened and this was the best deal offered to him.

Gauthier got two good prospects for Halak. Lars Eller will probably make the team next year. He’s slated to be a second line center who brings playmaking and some decent size. Ian Schultz may or may not be that elusive power forward the team has been desperately seeking for years. He could be as good as Big Buff. Or maybe more of a Chris Neil.

I’d take that.

This trade shocked most of the hockey world in large part because it came without any real warning. The playoffs just ended and it’s not draft week yet. This is normally a quiet week in the NHL.

Then this happens.

There really weren’t any rumours about this floating around. People were saying Price to Tampa for French speaking player X or Jaro to Philly for Keep Dreaming player Y type deals but this came out of the Cardinals’ left field.

No E3s on this one.

 

Why did Gauthier trade Jaro ‘the Puck Stops Here’ Halak right now? Because there’s more to come. Hopefully, a lot more. Maybe we sign Tomas Plekanec to a fair deal or maybe he tests free agency. That one might take another two weeks to resolve. In the meantime :

1. Trade Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn. Listen, I like the Kostitsyns but they’re never going to flourish under Jacques Martin. Better to cut our losses and move on. I’ll take a prospect or low pick for SK and maybe a more promising prospect and higher pick for Andrei. I think AK46 can be a 40-goal scorer but he’s just too inconsistent. Get his salary off our books and put it towards a reliable top 6 forward with some grit. A team like Nashville or Minnesota need offense and will take a risk.

2. Trade Roman Hamrlik. I think he’s been awesome for the Habs but we need that 5.5 million in cap space. He’s a reliable top four defender. Just one year left on the contract. We might need to sweeten the deal a bit but that’s the cost of doing business.

3. Acquire Nathan Horton and/or Patrick Sharp. Horton would replace AK46’s production and give us more size. Sharp is a versatile player who would really fit in well with our current roster. Chicago can’t take back salary so we give up a pick and a prospect. With Dale Tallon running the show down in Sunrise now, he’ll probably want to build the Hawks 2.0 so again, look for a picks/prospects type deal.

4. Sign either Martin Biron or Dan Ellis. Both are good netminders who would not only be able to mentor Price but be able to step into a bigger role should there be trouble (not that there will be). They won’t break the bank either, which is important. Ellis might be the better choice, but Biron is French.

 

Cap wise this is tight, but definitely close enough to possible that it can be made to work. Pleks would have to sign for under 4.75 million, Ellis under 2 million and we’d need to be stingy with Benoit Pouliot, Maxim Lapierre and Dominic Moore (maybe 1.2 -1.5 million).
But if we can get Sharp AND Horton then do what you have to do and sign a guy like Sanford or (even) Raycroft as a cheap back-up. Or maybe Moore doesn’t even get re-signed. Eller replaces him as the third line center and MadMax moves back to the fourth line.

 

Forwards:

Gio-Gomez-Horton

Sharp-Plekanec-Cammalleri

Pouliot-Eller-Moen

Pyatt-Lapierre-Trotter(?)

 

Defensemen:

Markov-O’Byrne

Spacek-Subban

Gorges-Gill

 

Goalies:

Price-Ellis

 

During the season players can still be evaluated and moved. Maybe Pouliot doesn’t pan out or we need depth on D and bring up Weber. David Desharnais might deserve a long look and might fit in well as a top 6 forward. Maybe Max Pacioretty might get another shot to prove himself. We got two good young guys in this trade and they join good company. We’ve got an interesting mix right now and if PG plays his cards right, we could be close to having an elite team.

 

Will all of this happen?

Nope.

BUT, if PG can even pull off part of this then I’ll be partially smart and (almost) completely happy with this team moving forward.

 

Look, maybe we lost Jaro, but at least we got rid of Allan Walsh.

 

Is this the trade I wanted? No.
But I think it’s a good one.

 

GOHABSGO!

 

17 Comments

  1. New says:

    Chris, a lot of what you wrote is accurate. Wishing for big, tough, point-producing players is great too. I suspect they aren’t that easy to come by, and in the cap world, not easy to salvage after a ho-hum season or two. The ‘floor’ teams, if they make the cut off line, get subsidies from the profitable teams, get the higher draft picks in each round, and when the player’s value is up, trade or UFA them. That all conspires against dream teams happening.

    I am not a Gauthier fan. I didn’t like the rent Moore for a second move. I do believe in team play, and that teams win or lose, not individuals.

    I was impressed Gauthier got what he did for Halak. Sure Halak was showcased, and if you look at it from a non-fanboy point of view, the Habs barely squeeked into the playoffs with a healthy team in front of him. Essentially they lost their way in. If Halak had played decently it might have driven his value up, but he didn’t. If Halak had not looked so terrible against the Flyers, maybe his value would have been up.  The team played awesome in the first two rounds, proving that a team will beat a collection of stars. But for all the scars, blocks, bruises, and breaks they took the media, led by the Halak Banner waving Red, insisted it was surely Halak who was worthy. I have news for everyone. Give Crosby or Ovechkin a split second and they will beat any goalie from their preferred shooting positions. That is why they are paid the big bucks. The Montreal Canadiens did not give Crosby or Ovechkin those positions, or the time. They hit and chased, the supporting cast opponents sat back and waited for the stars to do it, and they won two full series. Then they met the Flyers who disected the Habs game, took them apart, and romped into the finals with no goaltender at all. All to prove my point, thank you Flyers.

    John Davidson was a big goalie, who played well. Halak is a small goalie who plays ok, with stints of well. I hope Mr Davidson doesn’t wear this trade but that is St Louis’ problem because that is where Halak and his twittering agent have gone to. The players will all say the right things (well maybe not the brothers dim, the Kostitsyns), and fans like me are free to express our views. The nicest part is the falicious arguements used to disparage the points you and innumerable other fans bring up about the records of this goalie or that.  You know the ones that start with “What a stupid…”

    Halak is an emotional issue with some folks. Huet was as well. So was Theodore. I sometimes believe that Red Fisher writes all the comments under pseudonoms on varying blogs. Gauthier made a decision, Halak is gone, Huet is gone (probably to the minors to dump bad move salary) and Theodore might land somewhere as a backup mentor.

    A lot more goes on in a game than may be apparent. The highlites though are around the crease. A two second burst 30 times a game at each end. Two minutes of highlites out of a 60 minute game. The highlites usually prompted by someone cutting to the bench early, someone missing a check 10 seconds before. Why? Because hockey is a game where the defenders usually outnumber the attackers 6 to 5. Someone has to miss his assignment for the puck to even head towards the net.  That is why powerplays are important, why they’re attempting to regulate the size of goalie equipment, and why there is a need for big, strong, fast, skilled goalies. Halak is not big or strong. Price is. That gives the Habs an edge. Price can cover more net, and if he can get that blue to himself is almost unbeatable behind a motivated team.

    That is likely why the Habs kept Price and Desjardins. Likely why they drafted a big D-man who is willing to clear that logjam. Likely why they went for a slick center and a hard nosed winger who both are reported to be able to do their jobs. Likely why they changed half the team last year. Say what you might about dollars or speed, but the guys the Habs brought in this last season were motivated to win when the chips were down.

    Love Halak. Hope he does well with the Blues and the other teams he will play for. Understand it was a business decision. But also realize it was largely Halak’s business decision, and that for once the Habs traded high rather than wait on the hype bubble to burst.

  2. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    Good points – especially about the goalie equipment… when the pads shrink we’ll be happy to have such a big netminder. I hope the smaller guys like Halak will still be able to compete at the level they are now.


    The Other Wing

  3. WarHero says:

    My thoughts on the Habs 2010 Draft class.

    http://my.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=9736&user_id=75112

    Give the article a read and comment away.

    ————————————————————————

    Never judge another man’s decision poor until you actually have proof of it failing!

  4. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    Awesome post. I find so many people are taking Halak’s trade as a “betrayal”… and even though us fans get emotionally involved with a bunch of guys swinging sticks at rubber we’ve got to remember that the NHL is a business. you broke the deal down with good business sense:

    - halak would be expensive to re-sign

    - price has comparable numbers (minus playoffs), is bigger and younger

    - we got a good return for halak (everyone in st-luois loved eller)

    The Other Wing

  5. WarHero says:

    Great post Chris :) I would love to see Horton or Sharp be brought in. I would also like to see us go after Frolov since he is a UFA. I think him and Cammy could make magic yet again :)

    Here was my take on the trade, enjoy.

     

    Being a Habs fan, I can certainly understand why many of you are
    outraged at this trade. I, on the other hand am not. In fact, my respect
    for Pierre Gauthier just went up another notch for the kahonies he
    displayed by making this trade.

    I will agree that Halak was fantastic in the playoffs but I will not
    agree that he was the only reason the Habs made it to the 3rd round. The
    real reason that they made it that far was because they finally came
    together as a TEAM and finally started to play for each other.

    What would have happened if the defencemen never blocked all of those
    shots?
    What would have happened if the PK units stunk it up like they did in
    Philly?
    What would have happened if Cammelleri never scored 13 goals?
    What would have happened if the other teams actually got shots up off
    the ice?

    I am willing to bet that the outcomes of the first two series would have
    been much different. The Philly series clearly showcased the weaknesses
    that Halak has. I know the trade has hurt a lot of you (including me a
    bit) but I am asking that you look past the playoffs and try to see the
    bigger picture.

    Let’s start by taking a look at the career numbers for both goal
    tenders:

    G W L T GA GAA S% SO
    101 56 34 7 251 2.62 .919 9 – Halak

    134 60 48 18 355 2.73 .912 4 – Price

    As you can see, not much difference. The big thing to keep in mind is
    the fact that Halak is 25 and Price is only 22.

    Now let’s take a look at the size of the goal tenders:

    Halak – Height: 5-11 Weight: 182lbs

    Price – Height: 6-3 Weight: 219lbs

    Advantage: Price

    From that point of view, it’s a bit easier to understand why Gauthier
    chose Price. It is expected that the size of goalie gear will be reduced
    in the future so having a bigger goalie to fill more of the net will be
    a key to success for all teams come that time.

    Whether we like it or not, the upsides to Price are greater then those
    of Halak. I tend to equate Price’s growth to that of Marc-Andre Fleury.
    If you think back, his first couple years were not that great either.
    Look at him now, 2 trips to the finals and a Cup under his belt.

    Here are some other things to consider:

    Compare the teams that each tender faced last year.

    – You’ll see that Price played most of the tougher opponents.

    Compare how the team played in front of Price.

    – I watched every Habs games last year and I can’t count how many times
    the team left Price high and dry last year with poor defensive efforts.
    It’s a bit unfair to judge a goal tender who never really got the
    support he needed from his team. However, it’s easy to understand why
    the support wasn’t there considering how many key injuries the Habs had
    last year. By the time everyone got healthy and chemistry developed, the
    season was more then 1/2 way done. Considering the fact that Price
    played the majority of his games during that time one can begin to
    understand the challenges he faced. Kind of hard to get consistent
    efforts from patch work lineups.

    Choices are tough in a Salary Cap world.

    - The simple fact is that the Habs could not afford to keep both and had
    to make a choice. By choosing Price the Habs have created more cap
    space that can be used to make improvements to the forwards such as
    resigning Plekanec.

    No more goal tending controversies

    - By trading Halak, the Habs have given Price a huge vote of confidence
    in his ability to be the #1 they know he can be. It also allows an
    opportunity for the Habs to sign a more veteran goal tender to work with
    Price as a back-up. Besides Huet, Price has never had that. If memory
    serves me right, Price played pretty well when Huet was around. A good
    example of someone who would fit the bill would be Martin Biron or Jose
    Theodore.

    Now let’s take a look at the Habs needs:

    The main goal of the trade was to not take any NHL salary back. They
    accomplished that AND got two good prospects in return.

    Eller is pretty much NHL ready and might even contend for a spot on the
    big club. It was anticipated that he would have cracked the Blues lineup
    next year. The other key is his size, he is 6’1″ and is also a
    playmaking center. Everyone said the Habs needed more size at that
    position.

    Schultz is coming off a great year for the WHL champion Calgary Hitmen.
    He is a 6’3″ power forward with goal scoring prowess who is also not
    afraid to drop the gloves when he needs to. Everyone said the Habs
    needed more size.

    These two guys will provide key development talent that the Habs were
    lacking.

    Hopefully after reading all of this you will now have a better idea of
    the bigger picture and why Habs GM Pierre Gauthier chose to keep Carey
    Price over Jaroslav Halak. I’ve always said to never judge another man’s
    decision poor until you have proof of it failing. I can’t wait to see
    what’s in store for 2010/2011.

    ————————————————————————

    Never judge another man’s decision poor until you actually have proof of it failing!

  6. RGM says:

    This is the problem with kids today – you don’t bother to read. You take one line and go off on non-sensical rant, and make yourself look foolish in the process. Obviously Price has every intention of proving that he’s a number one NHL goaltender; however, the discussion that Chris was having isn’t about Price, it’s about Halak. Kari Lehtonen just got $10.5M for 3 years, and that’s pretty much #1 goaltender money. How many playoff rounds did Lehtonen win this past spring? The Habs knew full well that would be the benchmark for starting discussions with Alan Walsh, and they knew that they could not fit that into their cap situation. Do you honestly believe that Halak would “take a hometown discount” and do the organization a monstrous favour by saying, “Hey, I realize that I was the biggest part of that playoffs run, and I know that you really want to develop Price, so I’ll be fine taking $2M per season and playing 41 games”? Let’s be serious here. Jaroslav Halak, at age 24, is entering the prime years of his career; he has demonstrated that he has the ability to carry the load. He wants to be paid commensurate with that. Unfortunately that won’t be happening with Montreal.

    —–
    “Come on, let’s keep a little optimism here.” — Han Solo, Return of the Jedi

  7. Got2BHabs says:

    “Jaroslav Halak wants to be an undisputed Number One goaltender and he
    wants the money to prove it.”

    I stopped reading right after I read this line. What horse crap! You mean to say that Price DOESN’T want to be a number 1 and have the money to prove it? And just HOW do you know how much money Jaro wants when there was NO contact between the Habs and the Jaro camp? You don’t! No one knows how much Jaro would have wanted if the Habs said “you’re our guy” and traded Price. Price has been lazy and immature and yet he gets rewarded for all that by being given the keys to the crease……again! Lets hope it works out better this time around because the first go around sucked!

  8. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    it came out that the habs were considering offers for both netminders and halak ended up netting the better return. i think RGM makes a great point about Lehtonen’s (inflated) salary being a tough benchmark for the habs to match, or improve upon. we HAD to re-sign pleks. we don’t have another 1st/2nd line center hanging around and there’s not a ton going UFA this summer. if it comes down to choosing pleks $30 million contract over halak’s contract (mason was looking for around $11.25 million over 3 years – halak should get a bit more) i’d choose pleks.

    why? if we lost pleks we’ need to find a replacement for his offense (70 points), his solid defensive play (esp. on the PK), his faceoff ability and his fairly consistent performances. that’s a lot to replace.

    we have a replacement for halak but not for plekanec. yes, halak was AWESOME for us in the playoffs but the montreal canadiens are a business and this was a good move going forward.


    The Other Wing

  9. Got2BHabs says:

    Don’t kid yourself, it’s ALWAYS about Price. We’ll see if the Habs really couldn’t afford to keep Halak when both of their contracts are in place. Oh and Halak is 25, not 24. You’d think a guy who “bothered to read” things would know that, especially when his birthday was during that playoff run that apparently forced the Habs to trade him.

  10. WarHero says:

    Indeed :)

    ————————————————————————

    Never judge another man’s decision poor until you actually have proof of it failing!

  11. WarHero says:

    Thx Chris, means a lot coming from you :)

     

    ————————————————————————

    Never judge another man’s decision poor until you actually have proof of it failing!

  12. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    i’ll agree with that – too many bad decisions get made for the wrong reasons.
    The Other Wing

  13. Harditya_CareyPrice says:

    Well written Chris. I like it!

  14. HollywoodLafleur says:

    I can’t believe anyone likes this trade and feels it was inevitable.
    Halak proved himself as #1 and took the team further in the playoffs
    than they’ve gone since 1993. The goaile is the most important position
    so all common sense pointed to keeping Halak and trading Price.

    The
    Habs could’ve freed up salary for Halak by trading the Kostitsyns and
    buying out Hamrlik’s last year. Regardless of the details, a good GM
    would find the way to  keep the core players. (On a side note, some NBA
    players have adjusted their salaries to help the team sign players; did
    PG approach Gomez to adjust his ridiculous pay?)

    As for Price, I
    have nothing against him. Gainey ruined Price’s short-term career by
    bringing him up too soon and now the only way for him to blossom is in
    another city as the pressure and baggage in Montreal have become
    insurmountable.

    I see no reason to be optimistic for the team’s
    near- to medium-future. They can only sign free agents like Gionta and
    Cammalleri by overpaying them because of the high taxes and high
    pressure in Mtl. And French prospects like Latendresse and non-French
    top prospects like Price are micro-analyzed and pressured to the point
    of having to be the exceptional player who can blossom immediately
    instead of following the path of 99% of the league’s players who
    develop over a few years.

    * sigh *

    HL

  15. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    HL – that’s the best response I’ve read against the trade so far. Most people are just swearing and grunting. You’re right, the Habs could’ve freed up the salary space to keep him. But we might’ve been a weaker team for it. If this was the market for Halak, then Price might not have fetched much either. Getting rid of Hamrlik is fine, but by signing Halak without having a guy like AK46 (20-30 goals) our offense takes a hit.

    Gainey/Gauthier can’t re-negotiate with Gomez – it’s against the CBA and the player’s union wouldn’t never allow it. And I don’t think we really overpaid for Cammy and Gio. Cammy should us during the playoffs why he deserves that contract and Gio shows us every night.

    I like Price. I think he’ll be great. I also do believe – like you do – that the Habs hurt his development, along with other young players like Latendresse and Pacioretty. Maybe the Habs need new people in player development (Gauthier and Timmins are the ones who’ve been runnning that trainwreck). Or maybe we need the Nordiques back so that not everyone is putting the fate of the entire Quebec culture on this one hockey team.

    I don’t hate the trade but I can understand why you would.

    The Other Wing

  16. SPATS says:

    You are correct Chris…Depth, depth and more depth. That’s what PG is going for. Philly and Chicago didn’t need outstanding goaltending and neither will we once we have….Depth!

  17. SUMO says:

    Good anlysis Chris.

    We dealt from a position of organizational strength to shore up other weaknesess. I’m sure Lars Eller is an definite upgrade over Ben Maxwell as a NHL ready pivot. He is also a 6ft centreman who managed to accumulate 80 PIMs in the AHL last year, so we can dispell the soft, european stereotype. I think once this trade is properly analysed a few years later that the Habs won’t been viewed as such losers in this deal but the wild card in this is Carey Price. He has no room for error.

    If Price manages to perform capably then we gain 2 prospects out of this. If he flops; then Habs are back to square one in net and fans will crucify PG. Gauthier was in a tough spot, it took alot of balls to pull off this trade.


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