Last week, it was rumored that Bob Gainey was actively shopping Jaroslav Halak on the trade market, and this added more fuel to the trade rumors that have been swirling around Halak for the better part of the season.
Although his stats might not reflect it, Halak is quietly having a strong season and has been a great insurance policy for the Canadiens when Carey Price faltered a bit.
His 22-year-old counterpart Price started the season off with two solid games, but, after that, was up and down for the better part of October and early November.
In that time span, Halak was able to provide a solid brand of goal tending, including a remarkable five-game winning streak, albeit against lesser teams such as the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Thrashers.
Nevertheless, Halak has turned in many outstanding performances, notably in a 45-save effort in Ottawa last week.
Were the Canadiens stuck with a true backup goaltender, they might be looking at a win-loss record under the .500 mark.
Halak has proved time and time again that he is a goaltender with No. 1 capabilities, but has been stuck behind either Carey Price or Cristobal Huet throughout his entire career.
Everyone knows what Halak has done and what he is capable of doing, resulting in many people clamoring for the Slovak to be shipped to another team so that he can finally assert himself as a No. 1 goaltender in the National Hockey League.
However, moving Halak would not be in the best interest of the Montreal Canadiens.
While Carey Price has taken his game up a notch recently, he is not what pundits would call a ''sure value'' yet.
The signs have been encouraging, but it simply isn't time for the Canadiens to get ahead of themselves with Price.
The third-year goaltender isn't ready yet to be a true 60-game starter.
With a capable ''1A'' goalie like Halak, the Habs can afford to keep Price as their No. 1, knowing that if he falters, ''Jaro'' will be there to answer the call.
If the Canadiens were to trade Halak, there is no suitable backup in the organization who is capable of what he does.
Cedrick Desjardins has been sharp in Hamilton, but calling him up to back up Price would be taking a step back for Desjardins' development.
Curtis Sanford remains a viable option, but, again, he is a career backup, not a guy who can step it up to the degree that Halak can.
It may be asking a bit much of either Desjardins or Sanford to be as good as Halak is, were he to leave, but the Canadiens need two strong goalies to remain in the hunt for the postseason.
As previously mentioned, Carey Price is just not ready to carry the full load in Montreal, and every win that Halak can get while Price falters could make the difference at the end of the season, when the Canadiens need whatever points they can get.
Unless Bob Gainey can acquire solid NHL players when dealing Halak, it will be a costly mistake that will come back to haunt the Canadiens when Price goes through a slump and his backup is unable to win games like only Halak is capable of winning.
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