I think it’s safe to say there’s a goalie controversy brewing in the city of Montreal.
Jaroslav Halak has started and won the past 3 games and will be starting his fourth consecutive game tonight at home against the Islanders. This includes a 2-1 shootout win over Atlanta (23 shots against), a 5-1 win over the Islanders (22 shots against) and most recently he was in goal for the Habs’ 5-4 overtime over the surprisingly high scoring New York Rangers (27 shots against). This has been a solid 3-game run for Halak, and it is evident that Jacques Martin has adopted a “win and you’re in” rule when deciding on who will be between the pipes for the Canadiens. I endorse that rule; especially given the lofty expectations of the Montreal fans and media. Halak has been stellar and deserves to keep playing, just like any other player whose ice time is dependent on performance. Just ask Andrei Kostitsyn. Seriously, ask him, because he’s on the fourth line tonight, so he’ll have plenty of time to relax on the bench and perhaps field some questions.
But what about Carey Price?
Isn’t he supposed to be the Canadiens’ savior? Isn’t the entire future of this team built around the fact that Carey Price will provide reliable and consistent goaltending for years to come? Weren’t the off-season acquisitions meant, in part, to insulate Carey Price and give him the resources to succeed? Didn’t they draft Carey Price at #5 overall over Marc Staal and Anze Kopitar because he has the ability to lead a team to the Promised Land?
If this is all true – how Carey Price responds to this goalie controversy will play a big part in determining the overall success of the club this year. This leads me to speculate on 2 scenarios as to how this can play out.
Halak’s strong play pushes Carey Price’s performance to a whole new level.
Carey Price re-claims the #1 starting job, thus making Halak very attractive trade bait.
Halak is shopped to a team looking to improve in goal for this season and the future.
Canadiens trade Jaroslav Halak, Sergei Kostitsyn and a mid round pick to Chicago for Cam Barker. Or something along those lines that will get them either a top 4 D-man or a second line forward.
The pressure of outplaying Halak gets to Price and he continues his erratic play.
This makes it impossible for the Canadiens to trade Halak, fearing that losing him will be impossible to recover from.
In conclusion – Halak proves to be too valuable to send elsewhere, which results in the Canadiens being forced to hang on to their most attractive asset in terms of the trade market.
Ultimately, the longer this drags on, the worse it is. Right now, no one feels they are out of the playoffs (except the Leafs, haha!), so this doesn’t eliminate anyone from being a buyer. My point is that the longer Halak is on the team, the more valuable he is to Montreal, thus making it less and less likely that they can afford to give him up in a trade that will either improve their puck movement on defense or their secondary scoring.
I prefer scenario A play out, but either way, I prefer that this plays out as soon as possible. Off the top of my head; I speculate that Washington, Chicago and perhaps even Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and San Jose would all be in the market for a young/cheap goalie who has shown that he can play at the NHL level and has tremendous upside.
Even though in the long run I believe that Price is the man for the job, I have no issue with Martin’s decision to keep on rolling with Jaro. In fact; Ha lak it a lot.
GO HABS GO!
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.