The Blues took care of some much-needed business on Tuesday. Nope, they did not stun the hockey world and sign free agent Ilya Kovalchuk. But the team did lock in goalie Jaroslav Halak.
The 25-year-old netminder, acquired June 17 in a surprising trade with Montreal, signed a four-year, $15 million contract. Equally important, the salary cap hit will be a very reasonable $3.75 million per season.
Halak had been a restricted free agent as of July 1 and declined to elect salary arbitration by Monday’s deadline. A scource close to the situation told me Halak wanted to negotiate with the Blues without any deadlines attached.
Halak almost single-handedly propelled the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Finals this past postseason. His stellar play was headlined by two memorable series upsets. The first was dismissing the Washington Capitals, who led the regular season in points. Then Halak helped to dispose the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Blues are now hoping they have finally found a goalie who they can build their team around. But the next order of business should focus on how to improve the weak offense.
Very few attractive free agent forwards remain in the market. Jason Arnott may be a nice fit. Arnott is a veteran presence who brings size and the ability to finish. He is somebody who Head Coach Davis Payne could place on the second line power play.
The Blues also made one other move on Tuesday. Cam Janssen agreed to a one year, $600,000 contract extension.
This transaction most likely means D.J. King will not be re-signed. Probably not much of a need to have two enforcers on the roster since the NHL has fewer fights than the WNBA. But pugilistic fans, mark down the date of October 18. It’s a pretty safe bet Mr. Janssen will introduce himself to the Chicago Blackhawks newest physical threat, 6’8″ John Scott.