Long after Jaroslav Halak has
left town, the debate surrounding him and Carey Price still rages on in chat
rooms, blogs, over water coolers, and even in the writing of hockey reporters.
What is the truth of the matter concerning these two goalies’ accomplishments,
ability, and potential? Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, judging
these three traits is somewhat of a beauty contest in the eyes of their once and
present general managers and organizations.
That being said there is a
body of work out there that can be analyzed statistically to help us frame our
thoughts on the matter.
Let’s look at Goalies drafted
from 2000-2009, a full decade of drafted goalies. Over this time, 273 goalies
were drafted including 22 first rounders. Of these, 67 have played in the NHL
(24.5%). Although many have only been up for a cup of coffee, to be more
precise about who has made the leap to the NHL level I have chosen to look at
goalies who have played at least 40 games at the NHL level. It seems reasonable
that a half season of work would constitute a legitimate NHL’er. There are 26
goalies who have played enough to qualify (9.5%). Where do Carey and Jaroslav
stack up on this list of younger goalies?
By Save Percentage, Jaroslav
rates 2nd at 0.919, Carey 9th at 0.912.
By Wins, Carey is 14th with
60, while Jaroslav is 16th with 56.
By Goals Against Average,
Halak is 7th, and Price 15th.
The chart below is shows the
performance of all of these goalies drafted in the 2000’s, sorted by Save
Let us assume as many do that Save Percentage is the most important stat.
What does this data tell us?
Jaroslav Halak Supporters: He looks statistically to have established himself
as the 2nd best young goalie in the league, at least amongst the top half
dozen. When you add in his spectacular playoff run of this season, then you get
a goalies who has been stellar and a very valuable commodity that is difficult
to give up.
Carey Price Supporters: Carey is the 9th best young goalie in the league
statistics wise at the age of 22. This does not sound like the albatross "Scarey
Carey" that Halak’s supporters want you to believe he is. He is well ahead of
other 1st round picks like Marc-Andre Fleury, Cam Ward, etc … Even though he
had a bad year this year when it comes to wins and losses his save percentage
remained at his career number of 0.912. This is a very good sign of
consistency, and that his wins and losses were a statistical outlier.
Pierre Gauthier: This is a team with 2 young goaltenders that can only have
one remain on the team due to cap space, efficient use of resources, and
possibility of losing players in the future without compensation.
Why Halak – His playoff performance, his Olympic performance, and his great
stats listed above.
Why Carey – He will likely cost less, is younger, and has a history of coming
up big in big situations. The team has control over his contract for much
longer and also does not have arbitration rights (until next offseason).
He is bigger and there is a general consensus that the smaller goalies will be
hit harder by the changes in rules to padding (Price’s pads are to shrink by 1/2
inch while Halak’s a full inch reportedly). Halak also probably
brings more back in return at the moment (let’s hope Eller and Schultz pay
The first thought that crossed my mind when he was pulled in the playoffs and
Halak was superb, was that Carey was done as a Canadien and Halak would be the
choice. I do, however, think Pierre made the right decision by trading Halak
due to all of the extenuating circumstances. In salary cap leagues when you
have two similar players, you have to take the cheaper and younger of the two.
I have always been a fan of Carey Price’s, although not at all blindly. Carey
Price has shown himself to be a very good goalie, and does not deserve the harsh
criticism he is receiving. That being said I was surprised in this analysis at
how good Halak has been. It is reminiscent of Drew Brees and Philip Rivers
in the NFL with San Diego. Both New Orleans and San Diego walked away from the
that extremely happy, which is what I think will happen for St. Louis and
Montreal, but only time will tell.