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Habs' return lacking due to goalie surplus

Well, the trade's come down and it's likely going to be almost universally panned. The reality is, however, that few teams were willing to deal much for a goaltender when so many will be available in free agency.

The truth, too, is that this was the most likely outcome for Montreal. As we talked about on the Globe podcast the past few weeks, there were some significant issues between the Habs management and Jaroslav Halak, and despite his playoff run, they were apparently deemed too much to overcome.

There were also, in a telling detail, no negotiations towards a new contract after the postseason.

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With Pierre Gauthier seemingly having made up his mind to deal Halak, however, one of the issues was that there just aren't a lot of homes for a No. 1 right now. Only four teams had a need for a starter -- St. Louis, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and San Jose -- and I doubt all four expressed interest. Of those which did, I'm sure their GMs also knew that there will be bargains to be had in free agency.

There are going to be a lot of servicable goalies available and it could even be that the players are fighting each other to try to get the few No. 1 roles out there. Here's a quick idea of the 10 top netminders set to become free agents on July 1:

Nabokov, Turco, Niittymaki, Mason, Ellis, Leighton, Theodore, Biron, Hedberg and Emery

There are also a few backups beyond that as well, meaning that it's quite likely we see several goaltenders unable to find NHL teams this summer.

How does that affect Halak's worth? Well if you're the Flyers, Lightning or Sharks, and Montreal wants a roster player or top prospect and Halak wants a contract worth $4-million plus, certainly it has to at least enter into your mind that a Niittymaki, Mason, Turco or Ellis can potentially be signed for less than half that, on a one- or two-year deal, in two weeks.

Knowing that -- and looking at how teams have succeeded with low paid netminders lately -- I imagine Montreal had few offers of notable roster players or prospects. This likely was the best one Gauthier received (and it's possible he wasn't looking for much salary in return given the Habs' cap situation).

All of that said, I do think Halak will be a No. 1 in the NHL for a while and that Carey Price remains a work in progress. The best move in my mind would have been to try to mend the relationship with Halak and keep him in Montreal rather than go this route, but that may not have been possible.

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At the very least, this ensures the Halak-Price debate we've been having all season continues a few more years.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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