On Saturday, Allan Walsh (agent of Jaroslav Halak and Jean-Francois Berube) tweeted his displeasure at the way the New York Islanders – who also have Thomas Greiss on their roster – were using their three goalies.
Shortly after, word came about that New York was making Halak available and would be listening to offers for the 31-year-old.
It’s unclear what the price would be to acquire the Slovak netminder who carries a $4.5-million cap hit* through the 2017-18 season, though with a most teams satisfied with their current tandems in goal, the cost to bring in Halak is unlikely to be very high.
The Islanders themselves only have $1.1 million in cap space so unless they can acquire a piece they really like, it’s unlikely they’d be willing to eat much, if any of Halak’s contract.
Nevertheless, Halak is a very capable goaltender who has posted save percentages of .914 or better in each of his last five seasons, save for 2012-13 when he made just 16 appearances for the St. Louis Blues.
Here are some teams who might be interested in making a move for the 2011-12 William M. Jennings Trophy co-winner as a member of the team with the fewest goals against.
*All salary information was found using CapFriendly.com.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
This should be obvious. Jonathan Quick, the franchise goaltender, is out until what looks like January with a groin injury. His backup, Jeff Zatkoff should be back soon from a lower-body injury but has never played more than 20 games in an NHL season.
Last week, it was reported that the Kings were going to give Peter Budaj a chance to carry the load in the short term, but Los Angeles doesn’t have a lot of time to waste in a competitive West.
The Case Against: As has been said many times before, the Kings have little cap space ($1.05 million as of Sunday), so if they want help they’ll have to move some salary around.
They could put Quick on long-term injured reserve, which would free just over $4.8 million in additional room, though that would cause trouble once Quick is ready to return.
Budaj has played progressively better in each of his five starts and with Zatkoff nearing a return, the Kings seem likely to stand down.
The high-powered Stars have been looking for an upgrade in goal for quite some time.
The team has been tied to Ben Bishop rumours in the past, and would also make a nice landing spot for Marc-Andre Fleury should the Pittsburgh Penguins ever decide to hand Matt Murray the full-time job.
The Case Against: Dallas has about $2.2 million in cap space currently, and both of their current goalies have some form of no-trade protection.
Still though, this is a club that should be looking to upgrade to their weakest position.
So far that hasn’t been the case.
Mason has been bad, Neuvirth has been worse, and the Flyers have allowed more goals than anybody while sporting league’s worst team save percentage (.862).
Philadelphia has no cap space whatsoever, but both its goalies have expiring contracts, and unlike Dallas, neither has any trade protection.
The Case Against: The likely bet is that GM Ron Hextall stays patient and waits for his current group to turn things around.
The Flyers are only nine games into a long season, and were given excellent goaltending from their current tandem last year.
But if Mason and Neuvirth don’t turn things around it’s not out of the question that Hextall decides to make a move, though New York is a divisional rival.
Players like Claude Giroux don’t come around very often and at age 28, it’s time to make the most of his career.
This is a team that could really use some quality goaltending.
The Hurricanes have a young core and some nice pieces on their blue line but have been undone by the below-average play of Cam Ward and Eddie Lack. Their team save percentage tied Dallas for second last (.906) in ’15-16 and has been even even worse this year, sitting at .865 through seven games.
Carolina is also one of just a handful of teams that has enough current cap space to acquire Halak outright.
In fact, the Hurricanes have by far the most cap space of any team, able to add $17 million to their current roster.
The Case Against: The question is whether the team is willing to add to its payroll, with owner Peter Karmanos Jr. having tried to sell the team last year and still facing a $100-million lawsuit filed against him by his sons.
If the Hurricanes are willing to take on salary and trade away some futures (they have an extra second- and third-round pick this year), this could be a fit.
The Coyotes are another team that could fit Halak (if Chris Pronger is moved to LTIR), and has a need in net but might not want to spend the money on a goaltender.
Defenceman Zbynek Michalek earns $3.2 million and has been sent to the Coyotes’ farm team in Tuscon, so if the Islanders were willing to take Michalek’s expiring contract a deal could be made here.
The Case Against: Aside from perhaps not having the cash, Arizona might just take ’16-17 as a season to see what they have in Domingue, who’s only 24.
This is a young team with talented prospects that have yet to reach their potential, and trading for Halak is more along the lines of something a team with serious playoff aspirations would do.