In a move that finally came today, the Islanders placed goalie Jaroslav Halak on waivers. The 31-year old veteran struggled in his third year with the club. Following a very good World Cup of Hockey tournament in which he backstopped Team Europe to a surprising run to the Finals before losing to Canada, Halak was inconsistent going 6-8-5 with a 3.23 goals-against-average and .904 save percentage with one shutout.
Signed by general manager Garth Snow in the summer of 2014 after he coughed up a fourth round pick for his exclusive negotiating rights, Halak posted a career best 38 wins with a 2.43 GAA, .914 save percentage and six shutouts in a career high 59 games in ’14-15. He led them to a first round appearance against the Capitals. It was a hard fought series that the Islanders lost in seven games. Halak had a strong series posting a 2.30 GAA and .926 save percentage.
After winning Game 6 which was the final game at Nassau Coliseum, the Isles fell to the Caps 2-1. Halak kept them in it with 24 saves. The Isles only had 11 shots on Braden Holtby. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the series winner with 7:18 left in regulation.
His second season with the Islanders was cut short due to a lower body injury. In 36 games, he performed admirably winning 18 games with a 2.30 GAA, .919 save percentage and three shutouts. He split duties with Thomas Greiss, who also performed well. The German backup won 23 games and posted a 2.36 GAA, .925 save percentage in 41 games. With Halak out for the postseason, it was Greiss who backstopped the Isles to their first series win since ’93. A thrilling six-game triumph over the Panthers in which captain John Tavares scored the tying and winning goals.
While Halak has been inconsistent in his third year of a four year contract, Greiss has been steadier winning eight of 13 starts with a 2.48 GAA and .922 save percentage. With the organization opting to keep three goalies including Jean-Francois Berube, it became a numbers game. They obviously see something in Berube to believe he could be the goalie of the future. They picked up the 25-year old former Kings’ 2009 fourth round draft pick off waivers last year.
Berube hasn’t gotten into many games allowing eight goals on 81 shots in four appearances with a 0-2-1 record. That should change with Halak gone.