The Boston Bruins have signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year contract extension worth $2.25 million, the team announced Friday. Halak is set to turn 35 years old in May and was a pending unrestricted free agent.
As mentioned by Elliotte Friedman, Halak is eligible for performance bonuses as well given that he’ll be 35 when this contract kicks in. There’s a $1.25 million bonus in the deal if Halak plays 10 games next season. CapFriendly would mention that this was a good way for the Bruins to navigate the salary cap next season.
In two seasons with the Bruins, Halak has been one of the best goaltenders in the entire NHL and has been one of the biggest bargains in the league as a result. Playing on a contract that carries a $2.75 million annual cap hit since signing with the team in 2018, Halak has been a revelation for the Bruins and an integral part of Tuukka Rask’s success as well.
In 31 games this season, the veteran netminder has gone 18-6-6 in 31 starts and has posted a 2.39 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and 8.83 goals saved above average (GSAA). Last season, Halak was even better to the point that some were questioning whether or not he’d be the new starter over Rask.
In 40 games in the 2018-19 season, Halak went 22-11-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and 14.37 GSAA.
Halak has been the perfect complement to Rask. Though there’s still a “starter” role for Rask and a “backup” role for Halak, it’s been clear that the Bruins have adopted the mentality of keeping Rask fresh and playing fewer regular-season games than he had in previous seasons.
This is what made Halak so irreplaceable heading into the 2019-20 season and fortunately for the Bruins, they’ll maintain that dynamic for at least one more season during what seems to be a prime Stanley Cup-window.
Bruins Fortunate to Retain Halak
There was certainly potential for Halak to call it a career after this contract or at the very least, price himself out of Boston should he still have a desire to play. There was also a legitimate argument to be made that Halak was deserving of a starting role next season and he could have explored his options in that regard.
Instead, Halak chose to remain in a good spot on a team that values him, gives him a good amount of usage and has a realistic chance at winning a Championship in the near future.
Things don’t always work out this way and the Bruins are certainly lucky that Halak chose to not only stay in Boston, but sign for a reasonable deal that they can undoubtedly afford given the value he provides.
Outside of Rask and Halak, the Bruins have Kyle Keyser, Dan Vladar, and Maxime Lagace under contract this season with the latter two set to be restricted and unrestricted free agents this offseason respectively. They also have Jeremy Swayman set to join the mix next season having signed his entry-level contract which starts during the 2020-21 season.
Realistically, Vladar would have been the logical internal-replacement for Halak next season had these negotiations gone differently. He still has the potential to be in the mix in the case of injury but he’ll likely have to wait at least one more season if he wants to play in Boston.