Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The sky must be falling

Why? Because Habs GM Bob Gainey has actually weighed in on a rumour concerning his team.

He told Hall of Fame journalist Bertrand Raymond of ruefrontenac.com (while locked out by his employer Le Journal de Montreal) that he contacted the Flyers to let them know Jaroslav Halak was available should they require his services.

This, my friends, means the chase to trade Halak is in full force. Gainey also told Raymond that he called other teams to inquire whether they would be interested in his backup goaltender, without specifying who those teams were. Furthermore, when asked to respond to the rumour that he would be seeking a top-six forward in return, Gainey did just that. I'm stunned.

"Let's be realistic," Gainey told Raymond. "I got a second round pick from the Washington Capitals for Cristobal Huet. The Philadelphia Flyers gave a second round pick to Buffalo for Martin Biron."

Of course, the difference here is that both those goalies were unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, while Halak will be restricted at the end of the season, and won't likely cost that much to re-sign. A team could probably have him for $1 million a year on a two or three-year deal.

Gainey said the Flyers reaction, and I would imagine he's referring to GM Paul Holmgren, to the news that Halak was available was, "Oh."

"And they didn't tell me if they'd be getting back to me," he added. "It was a brief discussion. We didn't get into details."

There is still some question as to whether or not Halak would withstand the rigours of being a starting goalie, but I would think Halak is a good risk to take. And most importantly, this is something Halak wants.

"The main reason I'm doing this is because Jaroslav wants a chance," Gainey told Raymond. "He feels he's ready to play a more important role and he's right to feel that way."

The way Halak has behaved himself over the past few years, I too feel he's earned his shot. He didn't say a peep when Carey Price sped by him on the organizational depth chart, and when everyone could plainly see that Halak deserved to take over the starting role last season while Price struggled, he didn't say a word.

But, this is no time for Gainey to be doing anyone any favours. If he's going to trade Halak, he needs to get more than a pick in return. He's trading a young, cheap and capable goalie here, and that has some value. Probably not as much as some people seem to think, but more than a second round pick.

So, Gainey at least admitted he's made Halak available to some other teams, and I think an educated guess can lead us to who those teams are.

The Detroit Red Wings had a scout at last night's Habs-Sabres game, and the Wings don't play Montreal again this year while they don't face the Sabres until March. I doubt the Wings sent someone to the Bell Centre to scout anyone other than Halak, but I guess anything's possible.

As I noted (very late) last night, I thought Halak was pretty ordinary in that loss to the Sabres. He made a number of solid saves, but I felt his rebound control wasn't up to snuff and despite being screened he probably should have had that point shot by Andrej Sekera. One thing's for sure, he wasn't a factor in the game in either sense. If you're a team looking at acquiring a goalie, you would like to at least notice him during a game.

But Halak's track record is pretty strong and I don't think any team will make a decision on him one way or the other based on one game.

I like Halak, always have. But he's a luxury item, insurance in case the guy you have clearly tabbed as your franchise player falters. I think everyone would agree hat this a team that can't afford luxury items right now.

Furthermore, while Curtis Sanford was likely signed in the offseason with the idea of replacing Halak in the event of a trade or injury, Cedrick Desjardins is burning it up in Hamilton and is one of the best goalies in the AHL right now. The 24-year-old is in his fourth season with Hamilton and is continuing the steady progression he showed over the first three, posting a 1.45 GAA and .944 save percentage in 14 games.

Numbers like that make Halak that much more of a luxury.

UPDATE (1:32 p.m.) - Halak confirmed that he has indeed requested a trade.


Anonymous said...

A capable backup goalie is not a luxury. It's an absolute must-have. I think Gainey's just showing Halak, in a very polite way, that his trade value is low, and he ought to patient just a little while longer.

Arpon Basu said...

I agree that a capable backup is a must, but when your backup would make a capable starter, that's a luxury.

pmk said...

gomez and halak for vinny.
"I halak IT. i halak it alot"

boom. done. the gm thing is easy...

TK said...

There is no question that the Flyers need a tender. But I imagine they will proceed with caution and weigh all their options. Atlanta may make one of their young Goalies available once Lehtonen is healthy. And perhaps Ellis may be shopped around? Anyone else i missed? What do you think?
So I don't think Gainey has anything in Halak that is highly sought after. If he gets a top-6 forward (which was a rumour) I would be surprised.

Arpon Basu said...

I too would be surprised if a top-six forward came for Halak. I'm pretty sure Lehtonen will be traded once he's healthy, and there's Biron who will go when (if) DiPietro comes back. Halak's number one quality is that he's cheap and young, but he's unproven. I still think Gainey could grab a roster player for him, but not a front-line type

pmk said...

halaks worth to the habs is greater than anything he can bring in a trade. Until that cahnges I don't expect a trade.

Maybe at the deadline but probably not till this summer.

Andy J Smith illustration said...

looks like dipietro will be shelved longer so biron is off the market for now. leighton was picked up off waivers by the flyers and it looks like they'll try the boucher/leighton combo before making any other moves. i think you COULD get a top 6 forward is the money is very lopsided, but then, could the canadiens take on a lopsided salary swap?

TK said...

That's true, but if Halak asked to be moved then Gainey may be inclined to move him. I don't know why that is, but it seems to be a general rule in this League. When someone asks to be traded, GM's want to appear accommodating I suppose. Maybe so future FA's see the organization as a player-friendly environment?

Sliver24 said...

I like your style PMK. Get 'er done Bob!

Anonymous said...

Man, DiPietro is a trip

pmk said...

or maybe we can trade halak for a injured player? Preferably someone out for a least a month...

john deere said...

If they trade Halak I don't see the Canadiens making the playoffs this year. If a mediocre backup costs them 7 to 10 points in the standings that they would of had had they kept Halak there just isn't the depth of talent on this team to make up for those lost points - even if they get a decent forward.

Parity is where the league is at this year and half of the teams below them in the standings are their equal in terms of talent (how they play is another matter).

If Gainey wants to blow up the team and start over that's okay with me, if he doesn't that fine too.

Anonymous said...

"I agree that a capable backup is a must, but when your backup would make a capable starter, that's a luxury."

Disagreed. Last year's winners aside, look at recent Stanley Cup tandems:

Giguere/Bryzgalov (Bryzgalov played important role)
Ward/Gerber (again, both needed in playoffs)

Putting the team in a position where a month-long injury to Price would end their playoff hopes is nuts. Especially when the return for Halak, in a goalie-glutted market, would likely amount to a borderline 3rd-liner or mid-round pick.

Anonymous said...

maybe bob should sit on his hands like hes done over the years and wait until trade deadline day to move halak for a bag of pucks and maybe some new pylons. i like the latendresse trade for an injured no one. chipchurra for another nothing was good too. maybe package up plekanec, kostitsyn, and price for a few 2015 9th rounders?!
keep up the good work bob.
next year try to pick up a few worse defencemen and a few more midgets to get the job done.

V said...

Anonymous - I'm like you. I think Gainey has done a great job. Good to find another fervent supporter out there.

Arpon Basu said...

If the Habs were going to win theStanley Cup, then yes, having a solid backup would be vital. I think we can all agree that if Mtl makes the playoffs, or maybe the second round, it would be a wildly successful season. Even the most fervent of the blind faith crew can't believe thus is a Cup contending team.

pierre said...

Keeping in mind that Gainey is not here to be nice for Halak but to be good for the CH, I can see why, as long as Desjardin is up to snuff, that he would proposed Halak as bait to the Flyers ( or to any other top 6 players rich team going into a similar crisis ) at this point in time.

Keeping in mind that Gainey's first priority for his team is to make the playoffs this season and that Halak has still a significant rĂ´le to play in that regard.... a top 6 player would be required in return of Halak in order to rationalised such a trade.

Of course Halak would need to be packaged with one of our prospects or players in orded to bring back a top 6 player but thats another story.

My question is not... why is it that Halak is being offered as trade bait to the Flyers or to any other GMs out there but rather why Gainey as decided to make it a public affair ?

He didn't need to but he did..... how can you explained that ?.... Arpon, any others ?

Anonymous said...

If Halak requests a trade, it will be in Gainey's best interest to trade him, as someone above mentione. Nice guy or not, GM's want to be keep players happy in order to attract free agents in the future.

john deere said...

You can always trade Gomez to Ottawa for Kovalev and a first round draft pick and then you trade Halak to Philadelphia for a conditional first round draft pick and start building for the future.

pmk said...

I wouldn't bother writing about the game last night either. what a stinker.