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.
















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?


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.





  1. 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

  2. WarHero says:

    My thoughts on the Habs 2010 Draft class.

    Give the article a read and comment away.


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

  3. 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.

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