10 November 2008
In Adrian Dater's blog post Friday he mentioned that Brett Clark is being scouted to add depth to someone else's blueline. He mentions the possibility of a trade with Montreal for young Slovak netminder Jaroslav Halak. While I still think Budaj will be a quality goalie, I'm never against a trade that helps the Avs, so let's break down a Halak for Clark trade.
Jaroslav Halak is not the best prospect out there, but certainly not the worst either. Hockey futures has some analysis on his minor league play, and he has played well, albeit sparingly, for the Canadiens backing up Carey "Jesus" Price. I certainly think talent wise it is a symbiotic and fair trade. Halak may be a bit more talented that Clark, but Carey Price is Montreal's goalie for the next 10 years and they would just be wasting Halak on the bench. Clark would certainly strengthen the Montreal defensive corps, which is not very impressive to be honest.
In order to make this trade work, the Canadiens need to dump salary... luckily the Avs have room to take on a bloated contract without hurting themselves too much. If Clark were traded right now he would cost the Canadians ~ $2.9M in cap space, while dumping Halak would save them ~ $113k. Les Habs would still need to dump ~$900k. That number decreases for every game played. In order to make the cap work the Avs and Habs would have to:
1) Wait until after the ~26th game of the season. This would be about Mid-December for a trade. I don't know the urgency felt by either team.
2) Avs pickup a salary dump and/or wait a few games. The most likely candidate would be Francis Bouillon, who is logging Patrick Brisbois type ice time (seriously look it up), and has a cap hit of $1.875M. The other possibility is probably Mathieu Dandenault. The right wing is logging only 10:00 per game, but he is in the last season of a $1.75M/season contract.
The Canadien's might also ask for Budaj in return, since their backup goalie spot will suddenly be barren. I'm' not sure I would go for the deal then. Budaj and Halak is a decent goalie duo, and one will emerge as a legitimate #1. Halak/Raycroft is asking for trouble. (That said Budaj/Raycroft is asking for trouble). If we dump Raycroft on them we would have to pick someone else up anyways... And then we could see a return of the Brisebois, something I'm sure every Avs fan would love (Arnason is a pretty good punching bag, but you can never replace making fun of Patrice Brisebois). I think the best trade for the Avs would be:
2nd round pick
So what do you folks think of this deal? Personally I feel if the Avs were going to go after a goalie prospect they would be better off trying to deal for Thrasher's prospect Ondrej Pavelec, because he's a better prospect than Halak. The Thrashers would probably be reluctant to trade him, since he's so talented, but he's extremely disgruntled right now and has threatened to head to the KHL because of the way the Thrashers have treated him. This will scare teams off and push his trade value down. Before getting nervous remember that the last two disgruntled goalies I can remember who were traded on the cheap were Patrick Roy and Roberto Luongo, so I think it's safe to say it's worth the risk. Also, the Avs would be trading with Don Waddell so they are guaranteed to come out ahead on the deal.
But if Pavelec can't be pried from Atlanta, who have the same defensive deficiencies as Montreal, then Halak is probably the best backup plan. I'm certainly more on board with either of them than trading for a veteran who is overpriced, such as Khabibulin or Huet on the Blackhawks.
(Ed Note: all salary numbers are estimated based on how much each player makes per game based on their cap hit. Clark's cap hit is about $42k/game and Halak's is estimated at $9,450/game. Actual cap hit is probably a little different.)
Addendum As Shane pointed out in the comments, Halak has a kick ass mask, and would give the Avs the best Goalie Mask tandem in the NHL, and also the only all-slovak goalie duo.
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