With Carey Price's strong start, the Jaroslav Halak backlash has moved away from him and begun to shift to Lars Eller. On TSN, the "expert" panel debated if the Canadiens had received "enough" in Lars Eller. Bob Mackenzie (who I respect a lot) mentioned how they should have acquired David Perron, T.J. Oshie or Patrik Berglund as they are guaranteed top 6 forwards, whereas Eller "could develop into" a top 6 forward.
All of the aforementioned players were St. Louis Blues first rounders. The highest drafted one.... Lars Eller. I don't understand what has occurred in the past three seasons to push Eller so drastically behind the other three. All three players have yet to fully develop, so it is puzzling to see these type of declarations made so early after the trade. Judging an NHL forward at 21 would lead you to believe that player like Tomas Plekanec, Henrik Sedin or Pavel Datsyuk would never see themselves past the third line.
The Canadiens were lucky that Glen "I'm resting on my laurels" Sather viewed the 22 year old Jozef Balej as a better player and opted for him over the 22 year old Plekanec in the Alex Kovalev deal. The jury is still out on who will be the best among those four forwards in 3-4 seasons, it is also still out on who will be better between Price and Halak, so I am certainly not ready to judge or get worked up about this deal after 1 month of the season.
Which leads to the question of "What were the media/fans expectations on the return for Jaroslav Halak"? If the expectation was for a top line forward, then you were destined to be disappointed.
Below is a list of every goaltender that has been traded since 2003. The returns are less than flattering.
2003 - 2005
|October 3, 2003||ATL||Jani Hurme||CAR||4th round pick in 2004|
|October 5, 2003||FLA||Steve Shields||BOS||future considerations|
|November 16, 2003||CGY||Miikka Kiprusoff||SJS||2nd round pick in 2005|
|March 3, 2004||EDM||Petr Nedved
2nd round pick in 2004
|March 3, 2004||PHX||Brent Johnson||STL||Mike Sillinger|
|March 9, 2004||COL||Tommy Salo
6th round pick in 2005
|June 18, 2004||CAR||Martin Gerber||ANA||Tomas Malec
3rd round pick in 2004
|June 26, 2004||LAK||
3rd round pick in 2004
|June 27, 2004||STL||Patrick Lalime||OTT||conditional 5th round pick in 2005|
|August 9, 2005||CGY||Philippe Sauve||COL||conditional 5th round pick in 2007|
|August 10, 2005||PIT||Jocelyn Thibault||CHI||4th round pick in 2006|
|October 4, 2005||BUF||Michael Leighton||CHI||Milan Bartovic|
|February 1, 2006||CGY||
|March 1, 2006||ANA||Jani Hurme||ATL||Joel Stepp|
|March 8, 2006||EDM||Dwayne Roloson||MIN||1st round pick in 2006
conditional 3rd round pick
|March 8, 2006||COL||Jose Theodore||MTL||David Aebischer|
|March 9, 2006||VAN||Mika Noronen||BUF||2nd round pick in 2006|
|June 23, 2006||VAN||
6th round pick in 2006
|June 24, 2006||FLA||Craig Anderson||CHI||6th round pick in 2008|
|June 24, 2006||BOS||Tuukka Rask||TOR||Andrew Raycroft|
|June 30, 2006||TB||Marc Denis||CBJ||
|July 5, 2006||LAK||Dan Cloutier||VAN||2nd round pick in 2007
conditional pick in 2009
|November 28, 2006||PHX||Mikael Tellqvist||TOR||Tyson Nash
4th round pick in 2007
|February 27, 2007||PHI||Martin Biron||BUF||2nd round pick in 2007|
|February 27, 2007||BUF||Ty Conklin||CBJ||5th round pick in 2007|
|June 22, 2007||TOR||
|SJS||1st round pick in 2007
2nd round pick in 2007
4th round pick in 2009
|June 22, 2007||FLA||Tomas Vokoun||NSH||1st round pick in 2008
2nd round pick in 2007
conditional 2nd in 2007 or 2008
|June 23, 2007||CAR||Michael Leighton||MTL||7th round pick in 2007|
|June 30, 2007||BOS||Manny Fernandez||MIN||Petr Kalus|
|July 23, 2007||STL||Hannu Toivonen||BOS||Carl Soderberg|
|November 17, 2007||PHX||Ilya Bryzgalov||ANA||claimed off waivers|
|December 6, 2007||BOS||Alex Auld||PHX||Nate DiCasmirro
5th round pick in 2009
|February 26, 2008||TB||
4th round pick in 2009
|February 26, 2008||WSH||Cristobal Huet||MTL||2nd round pick in 2009 (ANA)|
|February 26, 2008||PHX||
conditional 5th round pick in 2009
|February 26, 2008||ANA||Jean-Sebastien Aubin||LAK||7th round pick in 2008|
|June 20, 2008||STL||Chris Mason||NSH||4th round pick in 2008|
|December 30, 2008||VAN||Jason LaBarbera||LAK||7th round pick in 2009|
|January 17, 2009||PIT||Mathieu Garon||EDM||
4th round pick in 2011
|March 4, 2009||OTT||
2nd round pick in 2009
|March 4, 2009||BUF||Mikael Tellqvist||PHX||4th round pick in 2010|
|July 8, 2009||DAL||Alex Auld||OTT||6th round pick in 2010 (SJS)|
|August 10, 2009||ANA||Justin Pogge||TOR||conditional pick in 2011|
|January 31, 2010||TOR||Jean-Sebastien Giguere||ANA||Vesa Toskala
|February 9, 2010||DAL||Kari Lehtonen||ATL||
4th round pick in 2010
|March 1, 2010||CHI||Hanny Toivonen
|March 3, 2010||CAR||Justin Pogge
4th round pick in 2010 or 2011 (BOS)
|March 3, 2010||CGY||Vesa Toskala
|March 3, 2010||ANA||
||TOR||7th round pick in 2011|
|June 29, 2010||MTL||
|August 16, 2010||MTL||Kari Ramo
Teams don't like to give up a lot to acquire goaltenders. The majority of this list is made up of journeymen, goaltenders past their prime or goaltenders who have yet to make their NHL impact, but it does contain examples of goaltenders with strong resumes who even when packaged return very little value.
Trades listed below are in chronological order.
Now I am not suggesting that Patrick Lalime was an elite goaltender on the level of Halak, but through the age of 30 he had a .570 winning percentage, averaged a shutout once every 10 starts and had a respectable .909 SV%. In the playoffs he won 3 playoff series and had taken the Senators to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals while posting a .924 SV%. The return for him after his 2004 playoff meltdown? A 5th round pick with conditions attached to it.
Obviously it isn't a comparable to Halak, and with the signing of Hasek the Senators were not in the best position to demand alot, but the return for a goaltender in his prime was essentially zero.
Although Roloson's career numbers don't do this deal justice, the Oilers acquired him based on the resurgent numbers he posted while with the Wild. While with Minnesota he posted a .919 SV% and posted 15 of his 17 career shutouts in his three and a half seasons behind the Jacques Lemaire wall. The Oilers were acquiring a UFA goaltender who had been in the top 10 in SV% during the 2003 and 2004 NHL seasons. The return for the 35 year old veteran? A first round pick and a third round pick.
We are familiar with this story. A 29 year old goaltender with a Vezina and MVP trophy on his mantle, a selection on Team Canada for the 2004 World Cup, three seasons removed from a Jaroslav Halak type playoff run and 38 games from leading another large playoff upset over the Bruins. The market for him was destroyed because of 38 games? His propecia addiction? His dad's mafia connections? This was a salary dump and ultimately why the fans were not upset when his playoff tested resume returned the king of the snow angels, David Aebischer.
The biggest fish on this list is Roberto Luongo. Although a playoff resume is noticeably absent on his pre-Canucks resume, that was mainly attributed to playing on terrible teams for his whole career. From 2002 through 2006, Luongo finished in the top 10 in SV% every season. Luongo was entering the final season before earning his UFA status. The return? Bryan Allen and Alex Auld were included as well as Krajicek and a pick, but the return was essentially Bertuzzi for Luongo. At the time, Bertuzzi was toxic due to the Steve Moore incident and his career had begun a freefall that he has never recovered from. If the return was the 2003 edition of Bertuzzi, then we would have a legit example of a large return for a goaltender, but because of all the baggage, Vancouver dumped their headache, a backup and a solid defenseman for the premier goalie in the league.
The 31 year old former All-Star was involved in a draft day trade that saw the Panthers acquire his rights for a first round selection (Colin Wilson) and two second rounders (Nick Spaling, the other was used to acquire Colin Wilson). The Predators gave up their established number one goaltender with 384 games of experience for a young forward prospect and a secondary prospect. This return is reasonable and was likely influenced by Vokoun being signed to an extension midway through the 2007 season, assuring the Panthers of a number one goalie for 4 seasons.
The current Vezina trophy finalist wasn't even traded, he was put on waivers because Brian Burke couldn't get enough interest in him to deal him. We are talking about a 27 year old goaltender with solid numbers and a strong playoff resume that included leading the Ducks to the Conference Finals in 2006 with a .944 SV%. Nobody in the league needed a goalie with this resume and an entry level contract? I guess John Ferguson Jr. would rather trade his premier prospect for Andrew Raycroft.
On the surface, a 2nd rounder seems like very little value for the 2006 SV% leader and the 2007 All-Star, but Huet was about to become a UFA and with Price and Halak in the system the Canadiens dealt him at the deadline for a 2nd round pick. It pales in comparison to the returns that UFA forward rentals demand, but is consistent in what teams will trade for goaltenders.
Former All-Star, Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe award winner with over 50 games of playoff experience and only 32 years old, Giguere was acquired by the Maple Leafs for the artist formerly known as Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake. In what amounted to a double salary dump (Blake and Giguere because of the emergence of Hiller), the Leafs acquired a number one goaltender and an extra year relief on the ridiculous Jason Blake contract.
It is easy as a Canadiens fan to take the stance that Halak is not a proper comparable to these guys because he is still 25 and after his playoff run is set up for a Hall of Fame career, but that is a biased one sided viewpoint. The counter argument for the GM trying to acquire Halak and lower his return would be that he has never played more than 43 games in a season and therefore should not net the return that a veteran All-Star would require. There is risk on both sides of this transaction, for those who say there are not, I offer up the names Jose Theodore and Steve Penney.
The best return on ALL of these deals were reverse engineered by John Ferguson Jr.. In order to acquire Toskala and Raycroft, Ferguson gave up Rask a first, second and fourth round pick. Can we look to one of the worst GMs in hockey to assess proper trade value? Would you rather have received Bertuzzi on an expiring contract in decline? Jason Blake? Aebischer? Or is the Vokoun return fair value?
Looking at these returns, the Canadiens haul for Halak was not out of line for what the league's GMs have set for a goaltender. If you look at all these deals in hindsight, how bad would Eller have to be in order for the Canadiens to not rank in the top 10 for goaltender return from the Halak trade? (I didn't include Brad Richards because Richards was not acquired for Mike Smith, Smith was used in a package to acquire Richards)
In January the Canadiens fanbase was prepared to receive a 2nd rounder for Halak, four months later a 1st and 3rd rounder was an outright fleecing by the Blues. This brings me back to Eller. The only way he will avoid the wrath of Canadiens fans is if the Canadiens continue to win and he develops into a scoring center. Unfortunately the fanbase is already proving impatient demanding after 10 games of his rookie season for him to be promoted to the Gomez line.The same fans that continually gripe that Carey Price, Guillaume Latendresse and Max Pacioretty were rushed now want to rush Eller into a role he is not ready for.
The Canadiens have had an organizational deficiency at center for the last decade, especially ones with size. Depth up the middle has always been integral to success in the NHL. The Canadiens finally leveraged an asset to acquire one and with Plekanec and Gomez are set down the middle for the next 3-5 seasons. In my eyes he has proven that he is an NHL player. Have patience, let the kid acclimate himself to the organization, the city and learn Martin's system before thrusting him into a role that will ultimately lead to failure.