Three weeks after acquiring his negotiating rights from the Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with pending free-agent goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The deal is worth $18 million for an annual cap hit of $4.5 million according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.
The Islanders found a more-than-adequate fix for their perpetually terrible goaltending situation and all it really cost them was a fourth-round pick in acquiring the negotiating rights. The term and the money on this deal are both phenomenal for the team as they get a veteran starting goaltender, who got bounced around as a trade chip with an expiring contract last season.
By not waiting until to shop in the free-agency market, the Islanders probably saved themselves a few bucks as well.
Halak, who spent most of last season with the St. Louis Blues before being traded to Buffalo as part of a package that sent Ryan Miller the other way and laetr was shipped to Washington at the deadline, had a .921 save percentage in 52 appearances, which ranked 13th in the league. He went 29-13-7, posted a 2.25 goals-against average and registered five shutouts.
With 272 appearances under his belt in the NHL, the Islanders are getting a quality veteran who walks in as the best goaltender the club has had in a number of years. He also has postseason experience, most notably when he took the Canadiens on a run in 2010, stealing a few games with a .923 save percentage.
This was an important move for the Islanders for them to move forward. As they build a team around young star John Tavares and continue to build a rather bountiful prospect pipeline, this is a club on its way back from the league's basement.
There are a lot of big decisions left, but locking down a good goaltender on a multiyear deal was something GM Garth Snow had to do as quickly as possible. As the younger players matriculate to the lineup and get inserted into big roles, a good goaltender can help mask a lot of the deficiencies up front.
Halak is not going to be a franchise savior and the money they're giving him suggests they don't expect him to be, but he'll definitely help out. They'll be happy to have him in their mix.