UPDATE (9:28am): Via TSN.ca, “St. Louis Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak is the latest NHL player to go overseas, as his agent Allan Walsh tweeted Wednesday that he has signed with Lausitzer of the German Bundesliga. According to Walsh, Halak will be make his first start as early as Friday. Halak, 27, posted a 26-12-7 record with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and six shutouts in 46 games last season. He was injured in the second game of the Blues’ first-round series against San Jose, leaving with an undisclosed lower-body injury that was believed to be a sprained left ankle after a collision with teammate Barret Jackman.”
The 2011-2012 season was one of the best seasons for goaltending in St. Louis, so it would make sense that both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott would be looking to stay in top shape during the NHL lockout. The tandem allowed just 165 goals and managed to win the William M. Jennings trophy while leading the St. Louis Blues to the top of the Western Conference standings. Blues fans were thrilled to see Halak come into his own last season posting a 26-12-7 record, the best of his career. Prior to last season there were concerns among fans that Halak may not have been all that he was cracked up to be, but after the addition of Hitchcock, Halak put up a .926 save percentage and put the fears of fans to rest.
During the lockout it has been difficult for many goaltenders to find work, given the amount of players available and the lack of open positions. Goalies that have made the venture to Europe have been openly criticized for stealing work from their European counterparts and to this point both Halak and Elliott managed to avoid taking a job from anyone.
Well, with the NHLPA supposedly working on a proposal to give to the NHL this morning, we can only hope that Halak won’t need to make the move and will be able to start training camp in St. Louis within the next week or so. If the proposal is incomplete like the others from the NHLPA, a joke, or just a move in the wrong direction, I hope Halak travels abroad. Previously I would have feared the risk of injury, especially after Halak went down in the series against the Sharks, but at this point, I think he needs to play. Halak is developing nicely and he shouldn’t disturb that. At least in the KHL he will be facing scorers who want to win at any cost. The play may not be as challenging as the NHL, but there are some great snipers playing in the KHL.
So while the NHL and NHLPA meet today to discuss the state of the lockout, we will wait and see what Halak announces. The Slovakian goaltender would most likely feel at home in the KHL, but it seems he is trying to wait out the lockout as long as he can. Hopefully we will know his plans soon, but as we wait, as always, LET’S GO BLUES!