Scott Burnside: It hasn’t exactly been a banner season for veteran goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was forced to endure a cockamamie three-goaltender system with the New York Islanders before being waived and dumped to the minors a month ago. Yet the 31-year-old, who was so good for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey, has been excellent in the AHL, going 6-1-1 with a .927 save percentage. He comes with salary-cap baggage — he’s owed $5 million real money next season with a $4.5 million cap hit — but surely the Isles would be willing to eat some of that if a team came calling. And there are teams looking for either a starter (St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, to name three) or a backup (Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers or Pittsburgh Penguins, pending what becomes of Marc-Andre Fleury). Either way, it’ll be a bit of a surprise if we don’t see Halak, the star of the Montreal Canadiens’ magical run to the 2010 Eastern Conference finals, back in an NHL jersey before March 1.
Now we wait. Halak went unclaimed when the Isles placed him on waivers, but the goalie market can change in a hurry. We never know who might desperately need a trade to claw back into the playoff picture. Teams who missed the first shot at Halak would be wise to put aside their pride and realize there’s a good goalie out there at a respectable price.
My take: I wrote an article about a week ago stating why it would be a good idea not to trade Halak this season. Give it a read and give me your thoughts.
Mike Johnston of SportsNet gives his list of 20 players who could be trade deadline candidates.
Age on deadline: 35
Salary cap hit: $1 million
Contract Status: UFA after 2016-17 season
Unless the Islanders go on a bit of a run in the next month Garth Snow could be busy around the deadline. New York has 20 players on its active roster locked up for next season (and that’s not including three pending RFAs), so there aren’t too many rental player candidates on the Islanders. Seidenberg, a veteran blueliner with good vision who can give you 20 minutes, is somehow plus-21 on a team that allows more goals than they score.
Age on deadline: 23
Position: Right Winger
Salary cap hit: $2.5 million
Contract Status: RFA after 2017-18 season
Strome’s name was bandied about in trade rumours but that chatter simmered down after Jack Capuano was fired, however Strome recently went through a 10-game pointless streak. The Islanders are a middling group and Strome hasn’t been able to regain the form he had in his sophomore season in 2014-15. Perhaps a change in scenery would be best for both sides.
My take: Halak is not mentioned on this list because Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury and Petr Mrazek are ahead of him. For now, with less than a month to go, the Islanders are very much in the playoff race. If by some chance the Islanders stumble to the trade deadline, you may see a player like Seidenberg traded for a draft pick since he would be a very good rental. As for Strome, he has this month to show a little more of that potential from 2015, but I agree with Johnston that perhaps a change of scenery may be more beneficial should Strome fail to turn it around.