Many Islander fans have been surprised to hear that the Islanders put Jaroslav Halak on waivers. While it is no secret that the team has been looking to trade Halak due to the fact that they have three goaltenders on the active roster, this move still comes as a shock. Halak is a very good goaltender. Islanders general manager Garth Snow knows that a good goalie would be very valuable to competing teams. One would assume that rather than just waiving Halak, Snow would at least trade him for talented young forwards or draft picks.
One possibility as to why Halak was waived could be that Snow was having a hard time finding good trade partners. Many teams may have been turned off by Halak’s contract. He is owed $4.5 million this year and next year. Halak also supposedly has a reputation of being a negative presence in the clubhouse, which could explain why the Islanders are the third team he has played for since 2013. Earlier in the season, Halak’s agent criticized the Islanders organization for carrying three goalies on the roster. As a result of these comments, the Islanders put Halak on the trade block, but haven’t found any good suitors to their liking.
The Islanders organization thinks very highly of Jean-Francois Berube and Thomas Greiss. Greiss took over the starting goaltender spot last season after Halak suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. Greiss ended up playing very well for the Islanders for the rest of the season, including some of his best play occurring in the first round of the playoffs when the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers in 6 games. Greiss has continued his strong play so far this season, splitting playing time with Halak.
While Halak has been placed on waivers, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Islanders won’t trade Halak. In fact, this may increase the likelihood that he gets traded, assuming another team doesn’t claim him first. Clearly, the organization views Halak as the least valuable of their three goaltenders. With Halak gone, Berube will be able to get much more playing time behind Greiss. This will also open a roster spot for the Islanders to add a forward or defenseman.
I strongly believe that Halak should be traded for some young forwards. The Islanders have been lacking in the scoring department. While Andrew Ladd has begun playing better, the Islanders are still in need of more forwards that can help move the puck around. We’ll see if Halak can get the Islanders a player of this caliber.