We built this city on Halak and…..Soul

I wanna Halak and Roll all night

I could play on his name all day. I’m sharing in the happiness flowing through the fan base.

The Islanders got their goaltender locked up before the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion was crowned. Who would have guessed that it could be this easy?

The Islanders have been spurned by potential candidates for various positions throughout the years but Jaroslav Halak had no problem inking his name on a 4 year/$18 million contract with the New York Islanders. Halak gave fans reasons to be optimistic when they sent a fourth round draft pick to Washington on May 1st by not ruling out signing with the young Islanders. He actually spoke fondly of the Islanders.

If you read my article about how the Islanders can make their Nassau Coliseum finale grand, you know that signing Halak is a turn down the right path. They aren't done but this is a great start. The Islanders are looking to close out the Nassau Coliseum in 2014-15 on a high note.

Halak posted a 29-13-7 record paired with a 2.25 GAA while splitting time in St. Louis and DC during the 2013-14 campaign. The 29 year old has been more than a flash in the pan. He has shown that he can play consistently well in the NHL and at times carry a team. His career 144-85-29, most importantly 30 shut outs, leaves Islanders fans salivating at the thought of the void at goaltender disappearing. Jaroslav’s big game experience lends itself well to the excitement of the fans. He has donned the Slovakia jersey in two Olympic Games and appeared in 23 playoff games.

Who will be the backup? Garth Snow has said that he plans on signing two goaltenders this offseason. However if history is any indicator, Halak will be well suited if the Islanders signed an obvious back up.

Halak would benefit from sitting only when he needs rest, not losing starts to another possible number one goalie. It is an unnecessary mental strain for a goaltender that could be riding the bench after one bad game. Halak needs to know he is the starter. Sometimes competition doesn’t push competitors and the Islanders need to maximize the benefits of finally having their elite goaltender.

Ironically the league developed an affinity with playing two goalies equally throughout a season when Halak/Elliot stone walled the league in St. Louis. However, that is one exception in the large line of successful teams with one star goaltender.

Elite goalies need to play consistently in order to hone & keep their craft sharpened. Confidence is half the battle for these goalies. It is important to recognize that the ability to be comfortable can relax them and let them focus on playing.

Garth Snow showed confidence by giving Jaroslav Halak four years. He is an elite goaltender in the prime of his career. There is no reason to shed unnecessary money on another starter like Ryan Miller to share the load. As far as signing a backup, they need to be fiscally responsible. They will need to spend money elsewhere is they want to get back to the playoffs. Make a splash somewhere else!

That brings us to an obvious answer. Bring Nabokov back. He is comfortable here and at this older age, he can benefit from a lightened work load that a backup calls for. He will also garner less than what he was making last year at $3.25 million/year. Nabby’s best days are behind him but he can also catch lightning in a bottle once every 4 games. His savvy, veteran play could keep hot streaks going and provide some leadership to help Jaroslav Halak during tough stretches.

Garth Snow isn’t done nor should he be. This Islanders team has holes in many different areas that need addressing. One vital priority is flanking John Tavares with an experienced winger on the top line.

Sign Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan was shipped off of the rival Rangers to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis back in March leaving the Rangers captain less. They need to find a strong winger to play alongside John Tavares and Callahan can be that answer. He can provide valuable leadership for a young team. He has played big minutes in many hockey games with the Rangers, Lightning and even Team USA.

Most importantly, Ryan Callahan was the soul of the New York Rangers. No matter what talent took the ice for the Blueshirts, he was always leading by example. One of Callahan’s strong points is playing on the penalty kill. There is a reason that the Rangers’ PK ranked 3rd in the league during the regular season. Callahan has shown a disregard for his own safety in filling up shot lanes. The Islanders are looking to improve on their 29th ranked PK.

The Islanders were unable to slow down opposing teams during important times of the game. During those 3rd period collapses, their grip on their sticks got a little tighter. Ryan Callahan could help ease the tension and provide stability during these times of crisis. Captain Cally has provided a strong brand of leadership everywhere he has played and that would benefit the Islanders immensely.

He donned the C with respect and a hard working grit that even Islanders fans couldn’t root against. Ryan Callahan would run through a wall for his team and that is shown on a nightly basis with his inability to care about sacrificing his body if it meant blocking the shots or keeping the puck out of the net. He is well versed in clogging up shot lanes which makes him a goaltender's best friend.

Callahan is one of those players that provide an intangible quality to the team that he plays for. That intangible quality to lead and provide a calming voice during stressful stretches of games would be valuable to the Islanders given their history of 3rd period collapses.

One of the reasons the Rangers sent him to the beaches of Tampa Bay was because of the money he was looking to collect in his next contract. He was asking for $6.5 million per year which the Lightning may be looking to match. That price could be a little much for the Islanders who need to make other moves but maybe years could be worth more to Ryan.

If Tampa Bay made a deep run in the playoffs, they might have signed him for his asking price. However, Steve Yzerman has to be thinking about the contributing factors and make-up of his team after the quick exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning were swept easily. Their deflating elimination might have opened the door for other teams to get involved in signing the two -time Olympian. The Lightning may look in another direction after their experiment didn’t pay off.

If Garth Snow wants to give the Rangers a quick and swift kick in the teeth, he would sign Callahan. There is no doubt that they would hate having to play multiple times per year. He would benefit our team, add some leadership AND spurn the New York Rangers. What is Garth waiting for?

He was their soul and he could be ours.

-Steve Giangaspro