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.