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New York Islanders Trade Rumors: Interest in Jaroslav Halak, but do Isles care?

The Isles have a good goalie in Bridgeport who they’ve demoted but might still need.

Minnesota Wild v New York Islanders
“I said, you say goalies make no sense, but what about GMs? say he was a goalie too?”
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With now just a little over one year remaining on Jaroslav Halak’s contract, NHL teams are finally interested in trading for him.

Whether the Islanders are still ready to deal him is another story.

As the NHL’s March 1 trade deadline enters its final 24 hours, multiple reports suggest at least three teams are interested, with two even having volleyed offers, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

What are the offers? Who knows. But as LHH’s garik16 points out, quantity is likely better than, say, mid-round picks with shinier numbers.

In the mid-rounds, they are increasingly just dice rolls. Collect more rolls.

Why Is This Happening?

First, get this out of the way: Whatever the merits of demoting Jaroslav Halak to AHL Bridgeport to work on his game — and there was some argument for that, given how atrocious his numbers were this year — that’s a different argument than saying the Isles are fine with Jean-Francois Berube as their backup.

Because they’re really not. Or at least, a dubious premise has only gotten shakier over time, as Berube’s track record indicates a very thin insurance policy against Thomas Greiss getting injured or overworked.

The Berube faith has been a 15-month (and counting) narrative coming out of the Islanders organization: Ever since mid-season last year, as Halak’s injuries recurred and Berube was held on the roster even when three goalies were healthy, the word was the Isles “liked” Berube. A lot.

Like, so much so that they kept three goalies on the roster for over a season. So much that they wouldn’t risk losing him to waivers. (Which, granted, is how they acquired him. But still.)

With Halak’s demotion this year, Berube finally got his chance as “regular” backup. Small, 444-minute sample size and all, but he’s got an .894 save percentage in that time. Combine it with last year’s 399 minutes and he’s up to .904, still not inspiring. Underlining that is his last two full AHL seasons with Manchester, .913 in 100 games.

Those were reasons to be wary of relying on Berube. While we may be ultimately proven wrong — hey, you never know — such wariness is certainly not unfounded.

Which is why this would make sense, from Newsday’s Arthur Staple, if his sense is in alignment with where the team is now:

At least in terms of this year’s playoff chase, that’s the right (non)move.

But it would also be such a totally Islanders goaltending thing to do: Rely on a shaky premise, double down on that premise for longer than even your most patient apologists are willing to, then finally decide, “You know what? The premise no longer stands.”