Jaroslav Halak received an early New Year’s surprise from his employer the New York Islanders.
He was put on waivers.
The 31 year-old is the odd man out in the Islanders three-headed monster of a goalie situation. With a 6-8-5 record and a 3.23 GAA, he was one of the main reasons for the team’s early struggles.
And now the rest of the league has until noon today to put a claim in for the netminder, but with a $4.5 million cap hit and a year left on his contract, general manager Garth Snow can pray for New Year’s miracle, but more than likely the city of Bridgeport will have a new star.
Apparently, Snow’s New Year’s resolution is to make sound hockey decisions.
That said, something needed to be done. With Thomas Greiss looking and playing like a No. 1 goalie and Jean-Francois Berube too good to put on waivers (he will get claimed), the Isles needed to clear up their goalie situation.
Wasting a roster spot on a third goalie isn’t just bad business; it’s bad for the team. One player tends to become the odd man out and doesn’t get the necessary practice time to stay sharp. In this case Berube, who only started two games this season, was wasting away.
And Halak, even with his pedestrian performance, complained through his agent about his playing time earlier in the season.
Really, though, this should have been handled over the summer. Snow should have targeted the problem in the off-season and took care of it. Even if he had to trade either Greiss or Berube, the Islanders would have been better off going into the season with just two clear netminders.
Instead, with almost half a season in the books and the bulk of the home schedule, the Isles are finally rectifying a situation, which obviously hamstrung them all year.
And that makes you wonder if it’s too late for Jack Capuano’s team to bounce back from the inconstant half. They are still last in the Eastern Conference with 34 points and 10 points out of a playoff spot, which means they have to get very hot very fast for any hope of the playoffs.
That’s the shame of it all. The goalie situation wasn’t the only reason why the Isles are in last, but it didn’t help matters and it was something that should have been resolved early on in training camp. Keeping three healthy goalies on the roster does not work and the Isles are the prime example why.
Now with Halak gone, the team can move on with Greiss, who will get the bulk of the starts and Berube, who will be the backup.
It may not be a New Year’s miracle, but at least it makes sense.