The Vancouver Canucks are set in net for the 2021-22 season. The club signed veteran goalie Jaroslav Halak to a one-year deal with a base of $1.5 million and potential bonuses of $1.5 million. He signed a one-year deal with the Boston Bruins last season, which had a cap hit of $2.25 million.
Halak is entering his 16th NHL season with the Canucks next season. Through 539 career games, he’s posted a 281-173-62 record, a .916 save percentage (SV%), a 2.48 goals-against average (GAA) and 52 shutouts.
He started his career in a Canadian market with the Montreal Canadiens. His four seasons with the organization is highlighted by his memorable run in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he led the club to the Eastern Conference Final. He then spent the following nine seasons of his career with the St. Louis Blues, New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals. He joined the Bruins before the 2018-19 season, splitting starts with Tuuka Rask for three seasons, which proved to be a smart strategy for the club. He played in 19 games last season, posting a 9-6-4 record, a .905 SV%, a 2.53 GAA and two shutouts.
Halak Brings Valuable Experience
Halak is a veteran backup goalie with a lot of experience to offer, especially to the 25-year-old Thatcher Demko. Signing Halak allows the Canucks to push Demko into a starting role instead of the splitting starts role he shared with Braden Holtby last season. The veteran goalie will likely start 30-35 games for the Canucks next season. He is capable of starting in a string of games if the 25-year old starter needs a break at any point of the season.
Additionally, it doesn’t force the Canucks to push Michael DiPietro into a backup role he likely isn’t ready for. The 22-year-old only played in four games in the AHL as he was left on the team’s taxi squad for a majority of the season. This allows DiPietro to develop and allows the Canucks to see where he is in his development as well.
Holtby Out, Halak In
The Canucks signed Holtby before the 2019-20 season and expected him to split starts with Demko. The former Veinza Trophy winner started 21 games, posting a 7-11-3 record. His $4.3 million cap hit proved to be too expensive for the club as they were in desperate need of cap room. Holtby was bought out by the Canucks on Tuesday.
Halak comes in as a cheaper option from Holtby and will take on a lesser role than the Stanley Cup champion. He essentially offers the Canucks exactly what they need on a short-term deal with a low cap hit.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.