St. Louis baseball fans have come to expect general managers making big moves to keep the team in contention. Whether it was the former Cardinals GM, Walt Jocketty, making deals with Oakland for Mark McGwire and more recently, the current Redbirds GM, John Mozelak making the deal for Matt Holliday. Now St. Louis hockey fans have a similar move to talk about.
Last week, the new GM of the St. Louis Blues, Doug Armstrong traded young prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal for Jaroslav Halak, who led the Canadians all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in the playoffs. This move has the potential to end the Blues recent patchwork approach when it came to finding a netminder while also giving them the chance to become a legitimate playoff threat.
It’s simple really. Success or failure in the National Hockey League starts in goal. Halak, 25, was 26-13-0-5 for Montreal last season with a .924 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average. He won nine playoff games for the Canadiens, leading them to upsets over the Capitals and Penguins. Halak has tremendous potential and the Blues seem willing to give him the big money they wouldn’t pay to Chris Mason, giving the team another solid piece to build around.
If this was a game of poker Armstrong’s move would be considered equal to going “all in”. The Blues were in need of a solid goaltender but they have other holes to fill as well. Including that of a true scorer. With this move, the Blues are left hoping that David Perron and T.J. Oshie develop into the high-end scoring threats the franchise needs. Sending Ellar to Montreal could hurt the team in the short term, but as a whole this move strengthens the team in the long-run.
It may be June in St. Louis, but this move will have Blues fans talking playoffs all summer long.