Dom Lunardo| March 31st, 2020
Redefining the concept of the backup goaltender position at the National Hockey League Level. This seems like a job (best-suited) for….Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins. It’s the old adage, “It’s never easy being a backup goaltender in the NHL”. When you take into consideration the lack of overall playing time, “catering” to the starter, and both the mental and physical demands of having to be 100% prepared to enter any game at the drop of a hat can be quite the daunting task. It’s also a typical and overwhelming feat for 31 goaltenders across the league. But as they say, “it comes with the territory”.
Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak has seen it all throughout the course of his playing career. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, Halak is in need of a new contract, and one that is sure to carry a fairly hefty price tag in the realm of backup goaltenders. By definition, he’s never been the true “number 1 and 1A”, alongside former Vezina Trophy winner, Tuukka Rask in Boston, but he’s pretty close in that regard and has helped the Bruins become one of the more consistent and feared opponents in the league since he arrived in Beantown. What is a reasonable request for Jaroslav Halak this summer as he prepares himself for free agency?
Basically, the Big Bad Bruin Way
The Boston Bruins are without question one of the most revered, well-run, and successful organizations in the National Hockey League. Whether it’s the way they deal with player personnel, managing the salary cap year after year, or in how they “think outside the box”, the “Bruin way”, however which way you look at it, is turning into a well-oiled machine in every stretch of the imagination. However, how the Bruins seamlessly manage their goaltending situation, is a whole other incredible story.
Over the past two seasons, the Bruins have received terrific goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. It has helped propel them to the top of both the Eastern Conference and NHL standings. On the back-end, the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and the ever-ageless (and team captain) Zdeno Chara, form a formidable defense core in front of whoever is in the crease. Add that to the vast (and immensely) talented array of forwards that they’ve seemed to accumulate in abundance (i.e. David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, etc), and you’ve got yourself a team capable of competing for Lord Stanley’s mug year after year. It was just a season ago when the Bruins advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing in heartbreak fashion to the eventual champions, St. Louis Blues in 7 games. The final nail in the coffin coming in the decisive seventh game at TD Garden. That was then, and this is now, and Halak and the Bruins and their talented roster, have their sights set on a long playoff fun once the NHL is set to resume play.
Does the Boston Way Hold Firm on July 1st?
Halak is currently playing on a $5.5 million/2-year contract with the Bruins heading into the first of July. If you look at the actual deal (term and dollar amount) this would be the definition of a steal given Halak’s track record in Boston and throughout the course of his NHL career. The mantra, “What have you done with me lately?” definitely bodes well for Halak, who will turn 35 years of age this June. His numbers in a Bruins uniform are tremendous, to say the least, with 40 wins, 17 losses, and 10 overtime/shootout losses in 71 appearances over 2 seasons with the Bruins. You can’t get much better than that, folks!
Halak joins fellow netminders Jacob Markstrom and Braden Holtby as “the cream of the crop” of goaltenders this offseason, all searching for new contracts. The Bruins, as an organization, are notorious for standing firm with regards to contract negotiations, placing the team and their collective needs ahead of the individual. Just ask David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo, who are all playing on “team-friendly” deals. If Halak can stay in Boston, I see him opting for an additional 2-year extension in and around the $2.9-3.1M range. If he decides to mind the net in another market, that number can easily skyrocket to $3.5-4M annually, on a 3-4 year term. With fellow restricted free agents (RFAs) such as Jake DeBrusk, Anders, Bjork, Zdeno Chara, and Torey Krug, all in need of new deals, it’ll be an interesting and intriguing few months in Beantown.
Questions and comments?
Follow Us on Twitter @thescorecrow
Follow Us on Reddit at u/TheScorecrow
Follow Us on Facebook at The Scorecrow
Follow Us on Instagram at The Scorecrow
Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Dom Lunardo on Twitter @TapetoTape88
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images