No Logic in Oilers Acquiring Halak

When the New York Islanders waived veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak, media outlets made an automatic link to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s rumored Oilers head coach Todd McLellan has lost confidence in backup Jonas Gustavsson and thus relied heavily on starter Cam Talbot. However, making an acquisition for Halak is not the right move.

The 31-year-old Slovakian goaltender became the odd man out in the Islanders three-headed crease conundrum with Thomas Greiss emerging and a desire to keep the younger J-F Berube. The Islanders are currently 15-15-6 and eight points out of a playoff position.

2016-2017 21 6 8 5 669 64 3.23 .904 1 1,189
Career 388 206 123 42 10,809 904 2.42 .916 40 22,379

Halak wasn’t the whole reason for this, but his underwhelming statistics proved he’s part of the problem. However, there’s a lack of logic in a Halak acquisition for the Oilers.

Fiscally Irresponsible

Jaroslav Halak New York Islanders
Jaroslav Halak (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It would be fiscally irresponsible to make a commitment to Halak, even if Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli got creative and convinced Snow and the Islanders to take defenseman Mark Fayne.

The 29-year-old defender has one more year remaining at $3.62 million and is currently assigned to the AHL Bakersfield Condors. A likely buyout candidate this summer, the Oilers would be on the hook for two years at $1.16 million each if Edmonton went that route.

By acquiring Halak and his $4.5 million cap hit in a straight across deal for Fayne, the Oilers would be adding another $880,000. They’d have Halak on the books for another year, which means allocating $4.5 million towards a backup and a total of $8.66 million in the crease.

The Oilers need to move away from making irresponsible financial decisions. There’s a looming cap crunch coming to Edmonton with Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse and even Matt Benning needing new deals in the next two years.

There’s also the Kris Russell negotiations — whether you’re in favor or opposed. The point is, Edmonton needs the money they’d allocate to Halak more than they need Halak.

Unnecessary Roadblock for Brossoit

Laurent Brossoit (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)
Laurent Brossoit (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

Another issue in acquiring Halak is the unnecessary roadblock it creates for NHL ready prospect Laurent Brossoit.

The 23-year-old has been sensational for the Oilers AHL affiliate in Bakersfield and has been pushing for NHL minutes for two seasons now.

Brossoit struggled down the stretch last spring when the team traded Anders Nilsson and thrust him into the backup job.

It cast doubt and Chiarelli opted to sign a veteran backup, Jonas Gustavsson, to improve the team’s chances at moving up the standings over going with an unproven rookie. When training camp rolled around, Brossoit gave Gustavsson an honest run for the backup job.

19 1068:23 7 8 0 2 2.75 0.908

Gustavsson has since struggled and there’s a clear lack of confidence from the coaching staff by continually going back to Talbot. There is a natural transition this summer when Gustavsson’s one-year deal expires for Brossoit to be promoted to the Oilers backup job.

Signing Halak only hampers this natural evolution and pushes Brossoit back down the depth chart. It’s an unnecessary evil when the youngster is clearly ready for NHL duty. If the team isn’t sold on Brossoit, there are better options than an inconsistent goaltender with a cap albatross like Halak.

Look at Expiring Contracts

(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Keith Kinkaid (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Talbot has proven himself this year to be a capable NHL starter and is on pace to play 73 games for the Oilers. Talbot has not played more than 56 games in a season and the last time an NHL goalie played more than 70 games was two seasons ago.

Last year’s leader, Jonathan Quick, played 68 games and was one of just six goalies to play 65 games or more. Starting goalies are starting to play less and the value of a reliable backup is rising.

If not Gustavsson, then the team should look for another backup with an expiring contract.

Goaltender GP GAA SV% SO CAP HIT
Anders Nilsson (BUF) 11 2.47 0.925 1 $1.00M
Scott Darling (CHI) 18 2.39 0.921 1 $600K
Keith Kinkaid (NJD) 10 2.83 0.918 0 $725K
Mike Condon (OTT) 17 2.41 0.916 2 $575K
Al Montoya (MTL) 11 2.74 0.909 1 $905K
Darcy Kuemper (MIN) 7 3.11 0.904 0 $1.55M
Jonathan Bernier (ANA) 15 3.07 0.897 0 $4.15M

The last time an Oiler goaltender played more than 70 games was Curtis Joesph in 1997-98 (71 games).

If Edmonton truly is in the market for a backup, going after Halak is the wrong choice. There are plenty of other options that’ll cost nothing more than a mid-round pick to acquire.