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.
Why Are Islander Fans Obsessed with Halak?
What makes Halak so special, you ask? He’s a 28 year old who’s already played for four teams? For starters, he posted a .921 save percentage for two different teams and had a goals against average of 2.25. Not bad. Certainly, it’s better than the goalies the Islanders have seen in recent years.
To understand the lack of quality goaltending the Islanders have had in the past 15 years should be enough for one to see that an actual quality NHL goalie is huge for the franchise. If you don’t know, Islander goalies have been highlighted by Rick DiPietro, Wade Dubielewicz, and Evgeni Nabokov. This is not Sharks Nabby, this is 38-year-old Nabby who was recently called upon to start behind a putrid defense. [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 ben the downfall of the organization for years, and the cries for Garth and Co. to acquire a goalie are still ringing in my ears from years of pleading.
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 rooms 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. If I were Garth Snow, 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 your 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.
If I had one bit of advice for Garth Snow and the Islanders, it would be this- this is a great start. 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 Garth will do alright this offseason. He can’t afford not to.