Yesterday, the Washington Capitals traded the rights to soon-to-be free agent goalie Jaroslav Halak to the New York Islanders for a fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. This is a very smart move by the Capitals for several reasons.
Getting Something For Jaroslav Halak
The Capitals had absolutely no interest in re-signing Jaroslav Halak. The Capitals didn’t give up much to get Halak from the Buffalo Sabres (just backup goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla), so that makes it even better. Anytime you can get something for nothing, it’s a good deal.
It Solves The Goaltender Issue
The Jaroslav Halak trade puts to rest any concerns about who is the Capitals’ goaltender for the 2014-2015 season. Barring injury or some unforeseen free agent signing or trade, Braden Holtby will enter the 2014-2015 season as the starting goalie for the Capitals. That’s a smart decision for two reasons.
First, it saves the Capitals some money so that they can invest more money into improving their defense, which is a far bigger concern than their goalies. A good goalie can never make a defense look good, as long as you’re looking at shots on goal. There is virtually nothing a goalie can do to control how many shots on goal he faces. A good defense, however, can make a goalie look good by minimizing the shots on goal that they face. Ergo, it’s smart to not invest much money in your goalie. You can improve your defense and that will make a much bigger impact than if you spend the same amount of money on a goalie.
Secondly, I believe the trade will greatly help Holtby with his confidence. He was not himself last season. He was repeatedly benched for no real reason. Philip Grubauer, Neuvirth, and Jaroslav Halak all started over Holtby. Whenever Holtby would have a bad game, he’d get benched. Whenever Grubauer, Neuvirth, or Halak would have a bad game, coach Adam Oates would give them another chance. Hopefully with this trade, the Capitals can start rebuilding their trust in Holtby.
With this trade, Grubauer can be penciled in as the backup goalie. The Capitals could still sign a veteran backup. I think they should let Grubauer back up, but that’s just me.
Let me know what you think about the trade in the comments!