With Anton Khudobin moving on to Dallas, the Bruins were in need of filling their backup position and did not waste time by agreeing on a two-year deal with Jaroslav Halak carrying an AAV of $2.75-million.
Halak has had an interesting career. There are times over the last decade, in Montreal and St. Louis mostly, where he’s looked like one of the top goaltenders in the world. There are other times, like last year and towards the end of his career in St. Louis, where it looks like he might not get another job.
On the whole, he’s had a perfectly average career, and that’s meant as a compliment. To be average, or even above average, in the NHL for over a decade is a testament to his talent. He currently has over 400 career starts, a number only 17 goaltenders have managed since 2004-05.
To this specific signing, it’s a massive upgrade for Halak. He never had a team near as good defensively as the Bruins have in all his years with the Islanders. Even in years where his save percentage was fine – like 2016-17 when he had a .915 – his goals against average was atrocious because the team allowed so many shots. That won’t be a concern with Boston.
Halak, on the whole, was pretty good for the Islanders. Over his four years, he had the fourth-highest goals saved above average, a high-danger save percentage in the neighbourhood of those like Frederik Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist, and in that same neighbourhood in five-on-five save percentage. Those are all really solid marks.
The question is whether he can keep up that play in his mid-30s as opposed to his late 20s/early 30s.
A reduced workload should help with the aging battle a little bit. Going to play behind Tuukka Rask probably means 20-25 starts, similar to what he did in 2016-17 when he performed very well. Also, should Rask suffer any sort of significant injury, the Bruins now have a proven starter for their backup who can come in and play every night if the circumstances warrant.
This is a pretty good signing for Boston and Halak both. It gives him a bit of security for the next couple years while playing for a Cup contender, and it gives them a bit of security for Rask while contending for those Cups.
Halak signing probably means the end of Zane McIntyre's hopes of being the regular backup for the Bruins while also allowing 19-year old signee Kyle Keyser a few years to develop.
Keep Halak on your radars for those who draft deep in the goalie pool i.e. two-goalie leagues with at least 12 teams. Halak will be on one of the better defensive teams in the NHL and likely to be slotted for around 25 starts. And if anything should happen to Rask, he’ll be the lock starter for a team with Cup aspirations. He should be a target as a third goalie in 12-team leagues.