The New York Islanders have had issues in net in recent years, but Garth Snow might be able to right the ship after acquiring the rights to Jaroslav Halak.
Only one day after Anders Nilsson proclaimed that he would not accept a role in the AHL, the Islanders acquired impending UFA Halak from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 4th round pick. You know, the pick that Garth Snow got for Pierre Marc-Bouchard and Peter Regin.
I wrote an article earlier (that I’ve been meaning to update) regarding the upcoming free agency and who they should target. Unsurprisingly, the fans’ choice was in fact, Halak.
Why Are Islander Fans Obsessed with Halak?
What makes Halak so special, you ask?
He’s a 28 year old who has already played for four teams? Well, for starters, he posted a .921 save percentage for two different teams and had a Goals Against Average of 2.25. Not bad. It certainly is better than some of the goalies the Islanders have seen in recent years.
To understand how major a signing this is, one must understand that the team has struggled to find that ace in the hole goalie that can win games for them on a regular basis for years. While the team has had solid players man the crease for the Islanders, finding someone who consistently gives you a chance to win, game in and game out, is a huge get for the club. [By the way – if you like this post be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter for more like it.]
Simply put, assuming Halak does indeed sign a deal with the Islanders, this has the potential to be one of the most important transactions since John Tavares was signed to his extension. Stability in net has been a goal for the Islanders, and now Garth and Co. have silenced the cries of those who have been pleading for that day of stability to arrive.
What Does this Mean for Nabokov?
How could we forget about Evgeni Nabokov in all of this? Nabby is one of the most popular players in the locker room for his leadership and great sense of humor, but in his last season it was very clear that he no longer could handle the workload of a full season. Being put in Garth Snow’s position, I would absolutely bring Nabby back as the backup to Halak. He can still steal a game here and there, and having leadership like that on one’s roster is invaluable.
So can Halak save the Islanders? Not by himself he can’t.
While this is a huge win for the team if they do in fact sign him to a contract, the team still needs help. The top line needs a left winger who can hang with Tavares. The need for a hulking veteran defenseman is still great. These questions seem to be a long ways away from being answered, and have so many potential solutions. However, the good news is that Snow has wasted no time in preparing for what will be the most important free agency period for the Islanders in recent years, and maybe ever.
Islander fans are finally starting to come around to the plan. But, this can’t be the end of the road for acquisitions this offseason. Whether a big free agent is signed or our fifth overall pick is traded for someone of value, fans are eager to see whats next.
Somehow, I seem to think that Snow will do just fine this offseason.