If I were to go through all the players in the NHL that I wanted to see in a Sharks jersey, it would be a pretty ridiculous list.
Ales Hemsky, Rick Nash, Ovie, Sidney Crosby, Sam Gagner etc.
Most, if not all of those players, would be unattainable. That's not the point of this series of posts. What I'm trying to do is to highlight a few players who could actually find their way to the beautiful city of San Jose.
If you known me at all, or you have a set of working eyes, you should know who will be the first player looked at in this series.
Now, I'm not against signing Gustavsson, and I'm not for (mindlessly blaming and) trading Nabokov. However, after watching Halak play and looking into his career stats, it's kinda hard to ignore him.
Make the jump for an in depth look at Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak.
He's played for 9 teams over 6 years (in Slovakia, the QMJHL, the ECHL, the AHL, and the NHL), and had a save percentage of under .915 only twice. One of those stints was in the 16 games he played for Montreal in 2006-2007. Over that stretch, he went 10-6 with a 2.89 GAA. The other was 47 games with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL. In those 47 games, he posted a .913 save percentage while going 24-17 with a 2.78 GAA. So even when he's bad, he's pretty good.
He's never had a losing record. Last season with the playoff bound yet rapidly imploding Canadiens, he went 18-14, while starter Carey Price went 23-16. Price posted a .905 save % accompanied by a 2.83 GAA. Halak came in at .915 and 2.86. Not too shabby.
He's 24. Gustavsson? He's a year older. But another thing that Halak has over Gustavsson is that he's NHL tested. Although it's known that Gustavsson has talent, it's unknown if that talent will translate directly to the NHL. In Halak, you at least have an idea of what you are getting.
Is he better than Nabokov? Who knows. But what I do know is that the difference between the two is far from vast. The biggest difference between them is the price. Nabokov's contract is fourth largest on the team, and it sure would be nice to shed some salary this offseason. Halak, although an RFA after next season, is only an 800,000 cap hit. You've got a better chance to sign Halak for cheaper and longer after the season is over.
Besides the skill and the cost, the thing that makes Halak most attractive is the situation he's in. Carey Price is, and without a doubt will be, the starter for the Montreal Canadiens
in the present and future. That leaves the Canadiens in a sticky situation. With Halak an RFA next season, he'll most likely be signed away by a team in need of goaltending. The Canadiens will undoubtedly let him walk (they're almost guaranteed to use all their cap space on free agents this offseason), because they already have Price (who's also an RFA). If I were Bob Gainey, I'd do my best to get as much value as possible for him right now.
This situation is much like the Sharks' with Toskala and Nabokov a few seasons ago. Toskala, who played extremely well as both the backup and starter for San Jose, was considered to be the best goalie not starting in the NHL at the time (Nabokov unseeded Toskala at midseason, and played well in the playoffs). The Sharks ended up trading him (along with Mark Bell
) to Toronto in 2007 for the team's 1st & 2nd round pick in 2007 and their 4th round pick in 2009. That was a good deal for the Sharks, but it probably could have been better... the situation (having two good goalies) in San Jose forced Doug Wilson's hand, and other teams knew it. Toronto got Toskala at less than market value.
If the Sharks were to trade for Halak now, they'd get him at a bargain. Michalek, Cheechoo, and a fourth? Ehrhoff and a 2nd? There are a few possibilities. Montreal is $33.4MM under the cap right now, so they most likely could absorb some salary. If they don't go after JB, defense is a point of weakness for them. Or, Michalek and Cheechoo could provide secondary scoring if they go after the Sedins/Gaborik/Havlat/Hossa/Lecavalier. As it stands, they only have seven forwards signed for next year. There is alot to be done in Montreal this offseason. If this scenario were to play out, the Sharks would then be able to move Nabokov to replace the pieces we lost to trade for Halak. Hell, wheelin' dealin' Wilson might even be able to pull a three way dealio. That way he's avoid the same situation he's taking advantage of.
Or, you could trade for Halak and still keep Nabokov for the time being. If time was split between the two, a decision could be made by the trade deadline: who to keep, and who to trade. Either would bring a pretty good haul in a deadline day deal.
Of course, this is all pure speculation. You may agree, and you may not. I really like Halak, and a trade involving him could be good for this team. S'all I'm sayin'.