Coming off a memorable performance to lead Montreal to the Eastern Conference Finals, Halak will become a restricted free agent come July 1. The general belief around the hockey world thought the Canadiens would re-sign the Slovakian netminder after how he played in the second half of the season.
Rather than going with what got you four wins from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, Montreal general manager Pierre Gauthier decided to appoint 22-year-old Carey Price as the Habs' No. 1 goalie this coming seasons. Price is also a restricted free agent.
For the Canadiens, the trade comes at a confusing time. A week away from the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles, Gauthier shipped Halak to St. Louis for a package of prospects that seems to be well under his market value.
You can’t tell me Montreal couldn’t get better deals for Halak or Price as they waited until draft night?
According to Andy Strickland, the Canadiens had better offers on the table for Halak compared to what the Blues gave up for a goalie who established himself as a top-tier NHL goalkeeper. The move doesn’t make much hockey sense, which shows that money was the reason why the Canadiens parted with Halak.
Considering the Canadiens' cap situation, it’s safe to assume that Gauthier believed he couldn’t afford to re-sign Halak. Internet reports have indicated that Gauthier wasn’t looking for “substantial salary” coming back.
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers were interested in trading for Price, as TSN reported on Thursday, and were among the bidders for Halak. However, CSN says Philadelphia weren’t players in the Halak sweepstakes. With Halak headed to St. Louis, the Canadiens have all but assured Price that he’ll be the starting goalie.
It’s clear that Gauthier really didn’t want any substantial money coming back. If he wanted the most value for either goalie, he would have waited until next week’s draft. For example, he might have been able to grab goal scorer Jeff Carter ($5 million) or youngster James van Riemsdyk in a package from Philadelphia.
The Flyers lost out on two goalies that were believed to be the best bet to solve their goaltending issues. Halak and Price were the top two targets entering the offseason, with both off the market, the Flyers have to move in a direction.
Although two goalies came off the market, another one entered as 34-year-old goalie Chris Mason will become available via free agency on July 1 after the Blues acquired Halak.
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