New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak may be on his way out — but only if the team wishes to go that route.
It stinks to be a spectator.
New York Islanders starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak wasn’t in net for the team’s first regular season game at Barclays Center, first playoff game at Barclays Center or first series clinching win at Barclays Center.
It appears like he may not be tending the pipes in the team’s first game next season at Barclays Center, either.
After a season brimful of injuries, the netminder has a hazy future in blue and orange.
Following a preseason mared with bumps and bruises, Halak suffered a severe groin injury in late March that kept him sidelined for much of the duration of the regular season — and the entire postseason.
That opened the door for backups Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube, with the team riding Greiss all the way to their first second-round birth in more than two decades, and the front office being infatuated with the later goalie.
“I like it here, but they just have to decide which way they want to go next season,” Halak told the media in early May. “J-F is a young goalie, Greisser played well all season long. So we’ll see.”
Although an unfortunate string of injuries landed Halak on the bench while the Isles played some of their most meaningful games in decades, hockey’s a business, one that’s going to require the frustrated goaltender and coerced front office to reach a verdict: deal with the reality of a three-goalie system, or leave town.
While dealing with the reality sounds like the much more intriguing option to fans, it’s not very realistic.
That’s because Halak wants to be a starting goalie, Greiss will be in a contract year and Berube will warrant some playing time. “Too much” depth is a good thing, until players deserving of playing time can’t lace up.
So that leaves the Isles with the engrossing option of trading Halak. The caveats to a potential Halak move have been well documented, starting with the question mark of Greiss being the everyday goalie.
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There are also questions surrounding Berube’s NHL readiness, and the repercussions of shipping a dependable vet for a potentially lesser return.
These concerns would need to be addressed if GM Garth Snow were to trade Halak.
But the Isles could use a shakeup, and for the first time in a while, they’re going to be cap-constrained. Snow could use all the dough he can get if he’s going to pursue a superstar like Steven Stamkos this offseason.
Plus, it won’t be beneficial to the team if one of their goalies spends the season soaking in the press box while his colleagues get to showcase their talents.
For what it’s worth, there’s a very limited market for free agent goaltenders this offseason. Cam Ward headlines the measly free agency class, but there aren’t many teams looking for a number one goalie, either.
It should be interesting to see what Snow does.