St. Louis Blues Sign Halak to 4-year, $15 Million Deal

The St. Louis Blues have ensured that they will have a starting goaltender for the foreseeable future today, inking Jaroslav Halak to a 4-year, $15 million deal, which will average out to $3.75 million per season. Halak was acquired by the Blues from the Montreal Canadiens last month in exchange for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

The deal raised many eyebrows, both in Montreal from fans and the media, as well as from pundits around the league. Coming off a career year, Halak was considered the major reason for the Canadiens post-season success and berth in the conference finals. Many regarded him as the better of the two goaltenders in Montreal, and considered trading one of the main reasons for the Canadiens' success to be a foolish move. Moreover, despite the apparent value of a prospect like Lars Eller, many didn't consider the deal beneficial for the Canadiens in the short run.

Nevertheless, Pierre Gauthier had to make a decision between Halak and Carey Price. Not only was he quick to make the decision, he was quick to take action by trading Halak for what was apparently available shortly before the draft. As a result, Halak stays far, far away from the Canadiens in the Western Conference, and Carey Price takes over the reins of the organization between the pipes, with Alex Auld as his backup.

The result, effect, and effectiveness of these decisions and actions from the Canadiens' management will remain unknown, for the most part, for quite some time. Carey Price has a lot of maturing to do, and despite some seemingly popular beliefs, Jaroslav Halak still has a lot of proving left to do. He has to earn his near-$4 million salary, he has to prove he can handle a full NHL schedule - in other words, more than 40 regular season games - and starting role, and he has to prove he's worth the offensive prospects the Blues gave up for him.

Meanwhile, Carey Price will have even more to prove to Habs management and Canadiens fans. But this deal, this vote of confidence, has ensured that he will at least get the chance to be the goalie that everyone wants him to be.

Price even received a second vote of confidence on July 1st, when Pierre Gauthier signed 30-year-old Alex Auld to be the Canadiens back-up. The Journeyman goaltender has played for 9 different teams since 2004, and has not stayed with the same team for more than one season since 2005-06. And while he has played as a starter for both Ottawa and Vancouver, just about anyone will tell you that Alex Auld is a career back-up goaltender, and that he was brought to Montreal to be a mentor to Carey Price and give him a rest once every 6 or 7 games. As a result, Price is likely to start at least 60 games, barring injury, by the time the season is in the books.

So there you have it. In 2010-11, both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak will be starting goaltenders. And in reality, despite the fact that the real "controversy" for the Canadiens has been dealt with, odds are that Halak and Price will be more scrutinized, compared in further detail and watched even closer than ever before.

What do you think of Jaroslav Halak's new contract? Is it fair? Would he have gotten more or less as a Montreal Canadien? Moreover, 2 weeks later, did Pierre Gauthier make the right deal, or do you still think that Price should have been the one who was traded?

Let us know!

From Yesterday: No Moves? No Problem! (For now) - Analyzing July 1st for the Montreal Canadiens.