The New York Islanders were looking for a new goalie this offseason, while pending free agent Jaroslav Halak was looking for a new home.
The apparent match was made all the more obvious on May 1, when General Manager Garth Snow acquired Halak’s rights from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft. Twenty-one days later, the two sides ironed out a four-year deal, satisfying of both parties.
“I’m thrilled,” Halak said. “It’s a big opportunity for me. It’s a young team. There are some really good hockey players on the team and that was the biggest factor. Plus I know Lubomir Visnovsky. He’s a really good guy and a good friend of mine.”
Halak posted a 29-13-7 record last season, splitting his time between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals with a brief stopover in Buffalo. The 29-year-old finished with the eighth lowest goals-against average (2.25) in the NHL and tied for third in the league with five shutouts.
Over an eight-year, 272-game career with the Montreal Canadiens, Blues, Sabres and Capitals, Halak owns a 144-85-29 record, a 2.38 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 30 shutouts. The Bratislava, Slovakia native backstopped the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010 and won the Jennings Trophy in 2011-12 for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL.
Halak’s career numbers are strong, but his career numbers against the Islanders are outstanding. In nine games against the Islanders, Halak posted a 7-1-1 record with a 1.53 GAA, a .950 SV% and two shutouts.
“We’re excited to have Jaro join the organization,” Snow said. “He’s someone we targeted when the season ended and we’re happy he’s made this commitment as we continue to make our team stronger this offseason.”
Halak has posted a winning season in each of his eight NHL campaigns and looks to bring his winning ways to Long Island.
“I’m 29-years-old and I know what it takes to be a number one,” Halak said. “I want to prove myself to everyone that I can be a number one.”
Forty days shy of the free agent frenzy, the Islanders seized an opportunity to strengthen their crease and the man they’ve entrusted is ready to seize his.