For over a year now, the New York Islanders have carried three goalies on their roster. All of Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss, and Jean-Francois Berube are solid goalies but carrying three at once causes problems, like none of the goalies getting a lot of time to practice and play. Halak and Berube’s agent has even criticized the Islanders for carrying three goalies and has talked about the challenges the situation poses. So unsurprisingly, the Islanders have let it be known that Halak is available and there have been no shortage of trade rumors. However, merely letting other GMs know Halak’s available might not get the job down, as there are also many issues when trying to trade him.
Halak is a good goalie (career .917 save percentage) but his recent play has deflated his trade value. In seven games this season with the Islanders, Halak only has two wins and owns a somewhat disappointing .908 save percentage. In only three games has Halak cleared the .900 save percentage mark and he’s given up three or more goals on four separate occasions already. Tied for the 21st highest save percentage in the league out of goalies who’ve played at least four games, Halak would be much easier to trade if he was playing well right now.
Not to mention, Halak’s contract is also a bit of an issue. Set to make $4.5 million each year for the next two seasons, a team acquiring Halak would need the cap space to take on his contract. According to CapFriendly, half of the teams in the NHL have less than one million dollars in cap space and only five teams have over $4.5 million in cap space. Money is tight in the NHL and not many teams would be able to afford Halak without the Islanders taking on some salary too. There’s also the problem of Halak’s extra year on his contract. Halak’s second season left on his deal would mean that teams wouldn’t just have to free up money for this year if they acquired Halak, they would also have to make sure that they’d have enough cap space next year to retain him and not go over the salary cap. The Los Angeles Kings, for example, are in need of a goalie with Jonathan Quick injured but both of these issues make a trade with L.A. unlikely to happen.
Finally, there aren’t many teams looking for a goalie that would be a good fit for Halak. Most teams already have a starting goalie and wouldn’t want to spend assets acquiring another one. And for a few teams that don’t have a true number one (like Carolina, Arizona), Halak doesn’t really fit well into their plans. Both the Hurricanes and Coyotes aren’t really looking to contend for a playoff spot now and are looking towards the future. A 31-year-old netminder with one more season on his contract probably wouldn’t be too appealing to them. There are some teams in need of a goalie like the Dallas Stars but what also hurts Halak’s value is the other potential options available. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins both have two really good goalies and if the Stars wanted to acquire a goalie, they could also go with one of Ben Bishop or Macr-Andre Fleury.
Even though Islanders GM Garth Snow wants to move Halak, it may prove difficult to work out a trade. Halak’s a good goalie but it will take a lot of work to trade him to another team.