Jaroslav Halak had 29 wins last season between Washington and St. Louis. (Getty Images)
The two teams made the swap on Thursday with the Islanders sending the Capitals a fourth-round draft pick as compensation. Halak is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but now the Islanders will have exclusive negotiating rights to try and work out a deal.
This trade comes down despite the fact that right now the Capitals don't have a general manager. They let go of George McPhee after 17 years in DC last week.
From the Islanders' perspective, this is perhaps long overdue. The biggest issue holding this team back the past couple of seasons has been the goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov wasn't getting the job done and when he was injured, the young backups Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin didn't fare much better.
If they can work out a deal with Halak, they stand to be a better team instantly. Even though this is the third time Halak has been traded in the span of three months, he can do a lot of good for the Islanders. Last season between the Blues and Capitals, Halak had a save percentage of .921 and a goals against average of 2.25. The Islanders had nobody close to that, Nabokov led with a save percentage of .905.
In other words, this should be a great fit from the Islanders' point of view, especially since Halak is still on the south side of 30.
For the Capitals, they took a shot on Halak at the deadline, hoping for a late playoff push but the future fit wasn't there with Braden Holtby and Philip Grubauer waiting in the wings. Obviously knowing they weren't going to re-sign him, they at least got something for the impending free agent.