Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have traded goalie Jaroslav Halak to the New York Islanders for a fourth round pick. Halak is a pending unrestricted free agent who will likely command a five-million dollar contract next season. Meanwhile, the Caps have two talented young goaltenders in Holtby and Grubauer. Then again, Halak is a top-10 goalie and now he’ll be playing against the Caps in the Metro division. I wonder if he’ll be comfortable with that.

One more interesting note: we’ve learned who is calling the shots in the post-GMGM era:

From the Caps:


Capitals Acquire Fourth-Round Pick in 2014 NHL Draft from New York Islanders for Halak

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired a fourth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from the New York Islanders in exchange for the rights to goaltender Jaroslav Halak, assistant general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. The fourth-round selection was acquired by New York from Chicago.

Halak, 28, posted a 29-13-7 record with five shutouts, a 2.25 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 52 games with Washington and St. Louis this season. The Bratislava, Slovakia, native was acquired by the Capitals from Buffalo with a third-round choice in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla on March 5, 2014. Halak has registered a 144-85-29 record in his career with 30 shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

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  • Searle

    Two trades to get something for nothing so far, can’t really fault it it isn’t as though he’d ever want to resign. That eliminates that question mark.

  • Rob W.

    We save some money from not signing him, and we get a draft pick which is always nice. Best of all I think this tells Holtby that he is still the guy

  • JenCo

    Time for a $5 T-Shirt fire sale!! (did they even have one for him??)

  • Josh Carey

    I was surprised at the amount of people on twitter hating on this trade. It was either take a fourth rounder or let him go for nothing. Good deal, GMG…GMBM

  • Not even a bad trade pick.

  • JH

    I’m just wondering why would the Islanders give away a draft pick for a guy who is an UFA this summer. He may never wear an Islanders sweater. Am I missing something?

  • Alex

    GMBM… I wonder how long we’ll be using that one?

  • Charlie Murphy

    probably just the opportunity to pick him up before someone else does

  • Chris Cerullo

    Who needs a real GM? I like it. Didn’t want him back. Wish it was New York’s original 4th though.

  • Charlie Murphy

    long live holtby!

  • Alex

    And people wonder why the Islanders are still eons away from returning their dynasty days…

  • Simonezero

    So uhhhh.. who still thinks we might be going after Ryan Miller?

  • JH

    If there are no good defensemen to be had, I could see the Caps taking Miller. I wouldn’t count it out entirely.

  • I didn’t even realize we had another Assistant GM. I thought that was Fishman. Anyways, props to you, GM Brian MacLellan. That’s grand larceny.

  • Lawrence

    Not long I hope.

  • Jack Conness

    Not a chance. Ever. In the history of history. Won’t happen.

  • Eric Schulz

    It’s good considering that it’s for an expiring, but it’s still nigh-worthless. It’s from the Blackhawks, even, so it’s a low 4th.

  • Sara

    I wish the asshats that are commenting on the FB thread following this story would bother to open and read it….MAYBE they wouldn’t feel the need to continue asking “who’s making these trades?”…..(Sorry for the rant. Is it Friday yet?) 🙂

  • Eric Schulz

    They get first rights to sign him, and they badly need a goalie. They are giving up a worthless pick for the opportunity to negotiate with him before any other team can.

  • Eric Schulz

    It has nothing to do with this trade. Look directly at Mike Milbury when you say that (Garth Snow is bad, don’t get me wrong, the Neiderreiter trade made little sense at the time, and just looks worse and worse… but Milbury is the worst of all time, by a large margin… Snow is merely the worst current).

  • Owen Johnson


  • Owen Johnson

    Well, at least we won’t have to worry about him knocking us out of the Playoffs anymore.
    No sarcasm. We traded him to the Islanders.

  • ChrisN
  • Owen Johnson

    So why would a team trade for a player they’re going to have to re-sign anyway?

  • Unofficial Capital

    Trade of the year

  • Unofficial Capital

    It’s the islanders, they just do this kind of stuff, I bet they won’t even re-sign Halak. #TheIslanderWay

  • Owen Johnson

    That was the answer I was expecting: “It’s the Islanders.”

  • Amykins

    Poor guy. Habs, Blues, Sabres, Caps, Isles. At this rate, playing in the NHL might be very uncomfortable for him. That said, Holtby + Gruby 4eva!

  • Heidi


  • Rob Reichhelm

    We are just going to build a wall in front of the goal crease and hope for the best.

  • Rob Reichhelm

    I’m still loving my Donald Brashear fire sale t-shirt. I wear that thing proudly.

  • JenCo

    Loved Brash!!

  • scott

    guys don’t worry. we traded him to the one team that has worse defense than we do.

  • Danny Lioudkevitch

    Would’ve been nice to see him leave our division as our team seems to struggle scoring on him. Hopefully he doesn’t sign with the Isles because that would be good for us and hilarious in regards to the Isles.

  • Graham Dumas

    Asshat is the best insult of all time. It needs more play. It’s like the Tom Wilson of insults. Kudos.

  • seandlax9

    Soooooo….the Forsberg trade ultimately resulted in a 4th round pick…

  • JH

    Makes sense, I guess.

  • Fred Merc

    What????? This had nothing to do with Forsberg. If you want to trace it back, when all the smoke has cleared we got a 3rd (Buf) and 4th (NYI) for M Neuvirth.
    We were not re-signing Halak. We got a 4th for an expiring contract. Good deal.

    Not directed entirely at you, but why so much negativity and picking at old scabs. They got fired, what more do people (not some) want? Their heads on pikes outside Kettler?
    Ummm I retract that question.

  • Alex

    Yeah that does sound a little stinky… I hope his GM skills don’t reflect that

  • Alex

    They have just been making shitty decisions one right after the other… Sometimes I look at these other GMs and wonder why McPhee got any crap at all. He was in the top 10 for sure, just based on his drafting skills alone. Sure he made a mistake here and there, but not like some of these other GMs, I mean holy sh#t…

  • Diller M

    The idea is that you can re-sign him before he gets to test the market. NYI are desperate for a goalie and it was CHIs pick anyway

  • Sarah

    Oy vey. GMMac? Big Mac? Something, anything, just not GMBM? …please?

  • Michael Reschly

    I’ll wager a bad cup of coffee they use this pick on a goalie.

  • Diller M

    Are you trying to garuntee it happens?! Quickly, spit three times and turn around counter clockwise.

  • 70Caps

    It’s not a worthless pick.
    Peter bondra was an eighth rounder.

  • 70Caps

    Peter Bondra = 8th rounder

  • Jonah

    dan girardi, marty st louis-undrafted.
    never underestimate a player based on their draft level.

  • Dan

    …as our team seems to struggle scoring around him…


  • Sarah

    Jamie Benn, round 5, 129th overall. Then, not invited to Canada’s Olympic camp. Scored two game winners at the Olympics.

  • bskillet

    Had to do something with him, should have tried to give him to a western team. His mental health and/or toughness may be in question but he is a pretty good goalie. Hopefully Braden regains his confidence now and goes back to playing his own way, the way it worked for him not Olie’s way.

  • JenniferH

    That picture you used along with this article is just perfection. Niiiice!

    Can’t say I’m unhappy with the trade. Nothing against Halak, but everything about acquiring him always felt like a slap in the face to Holtby to me and he confirmed in his exit interview that it felt to him like the upper management was telling him he wasn’t doing a good enough job. My poor Holtsy, screwed by Oates. Thank goodness, he’s gone! YES!!!

  • JenniferH

    Braden has already regained his confidence and gone back to playing his own way. He did that after the Olympics. That’s what he talked about in the post-exit interview. It’s what he worked on with Olie. And it wasn’t Olie’s way, it was Oates’ way. It was Adam Oates who wanted him to play differently.

    Braden had a great save percentage (like .937 or something, if not higher) in April because of his great play in April.

  • Sarah

    Lol, good question. Plus we have to go easy on poor Brian MacLellan, whoever he is. That’s why I’m begging for no more “GMBM” unless he does something, um, crappy. It’s like: come be GM in Washington! We’ve got your scatological nickname ready before you even start!

  • Shaun Phillips

    We’re getting rid of him, not welcoming him. 🙂

  • johnnymorte

    Sorry but I don’t see how giving a good goalie up to a team that we compete with in the same division as a good trade. I get that it’s something for nothing but it should have been to a non-metro team.

  • John M

    I didn’t know it was possible to trade an unrestricted free agent; I guess the season isn’t officially over. Bizarre, your name is the New York Islanders. Don’t they still owe that DiPietro guy money?

    But if I have to read about one more Caps trade after this one that involves the exchange of a fourth round pick, I’m going to barf.

  • RESmith

    Only if irony has its sway…

  • Eric Schulz

    Tom Brady was a 6th rounder. Good luck finding the next Bondra, or Brady, or other random player that you have an essentially 0% chance of finding that low.

  • Eric Schulz

    Holy crap, 4 players in the history of the NHL that you can name! Well, I take it back, 4th rounders often turn out to be great NHLers! Or, wait, maybe not. You have a less than 5% chance of finding a guy there that will play over 60 games in the NHL; that’s nigh-worthless. Now, if you stock up on 4ths, and end up with like 7 4th rounders, then you may find one by sheer numbers, but it’s almost essentially worthless. 4th rounders (and lower picks) are MUCH more valuable in trades than they are in actually finding valuable players in that spot.

  • Eric Schulz

    As I’ve said a few times before: it wasn’t McPhee’s overall ability… he made way more good moves than bad, I think… a few bad ones stand out (one in particular), but mostly I think he’s been fine. He put together the team we have now, and I think we are ready to contend with one or two moves (not including hiring the right GM and coach). He was mediocre in the draft, but I *think* that turned around in the last few years (we have a pretty nice farm system, but I’d like to see some research to back up my opinion, since it’s essentially based on the eye test). His problem was his blindspot: he thought our defense was good enough, and we need a 2nd pair and 3rd pair defensively conscientious, physical partner (for Green and Orlov, respectively). I don’t see how, with this foundation, we can do anything in the playoffs without that. If he saw that, he could’ve stayed… but without acknowledging that weakness, how would this team every achieve anything noteworthy in the playoffs? To some degree, that made it worse; had he been just bad, we could’ve cut ties long ago. Instead, he was given nearly two decades, and a GM that was otherwise so good just couldn’t fix our biggest weakness because he didn’t even see it; just infuriating.
    (Also, apparently no free agents wanted to come to Washington because he was a giant douche-nozzle. But that’s not something I imagine most, maybe any, fan would’ve known about before Katie’s article.)

  • Eric Schulz

    Goalies are a very, very bad investment in the 1st round. They are, however (and obviously), VERY valuable… I’d be fine if we used any acquire picks to gamble on goalies… at least, any picks after the 2nd round. For instance, if a team added 3 or 4 picks in trades that were, like, a 4th, a 5th, and a 7th or two, using all of them on goalies would be a very smart gamble.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, that was back when the NHL didn’t scout Europeans, because their game wouldn’t translate to the NHL; they were soft. Easier to find value in lower picks back in the day.

  • Eric Schulz

    Ditto my response to Jonah.

  • D’Arcy Butler

    Survivorship bias.

  • Eric Schulz

    And please don’t add more examples: I know there’s more than 4. The best, most obvious example is the Red Wings: Datsyuk in the 6th round, then Zetterberg in the 7th THE NEXT YEAR! (1998, then 1999.) That’s insane… but even with how good their process was, that’s just insanely lucky. Nothing wrong with adding low picks, and certainly it’s nice to get one for an expiring (rather than, say, a proven NHLer like Perreault)… the market dictates that this is a nice return. But the draft demonstrates that it’s almost guaranteed to be nothing in the long run.

  • Kevin F.

    He gave up way to many juicy rebounds IMO.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Exactly, season’s not over so he’s still technically Caps property. It gives NYI a chance to be the first to negotiate with him. And yeah, I think they’re still paying Rick 1.5 mil/yr until 2029.

    Getting something for someone that isn’t going to sign is GMing 101. The fact that this is the first time in forever the Caps have done it correctly should be further proof that GMGM needed to be gone. Even a 4th round pick is better than nothing.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I doubt he’ll sign there. Good chance he ends up back in St Louis as it sounds like the Blues have already chased Miller out.

  • Shaun Phillips

    It was great to see the old Holts back. Helped me win my fantasy hockey (he was my 1st goalie, drafted 3rd round). 😉 Had Halak too (5th round)

  • Nickki

    I think it was a good trade. I was impressed with him the short period he was with the Caps but I definitely think having him gone will remind Holtby that he’s still our number 1 and that may regain his confidence.

  • Dcsportsfan85

    It’s a great return on a pending UFA. From a pure assets exchange I love this trade, but I just don’t like helping a division rival fill their biggest need with a top 10 player at that position. I think the Isles underachieved last season and a lot of that was due to goaltending.

    Next season a lot of their talented prospects are NHL-ready or on the brink of breaking through. The Isles have one of the better prospect pools due to all those losing years. their other biggest need is on defense, which might be the strongest part of their farm system and they have a boatload of cap space if they up their internal budget. I’d target Brooks a Orpik and/or another veteran blue liner to stabilize the D and help bring along their talented young defensemen without putting them in a top 4 role they may not be ready for next season.

    I honestly think with a goalie and bringing in some veteran defensemen (to replace MacDonald and Streit) they could be really good. Columbus is going to keep getting better too. The Metro is a lot better than everybody thinks.

  • Jonah

    my response was not to try to say that this was worth it.
    I’m just practicing cautious optimism (however unworthy it is).
    also, we weren’t going to re-sign Halak and just see him go for nothing on july 1st.
    trading him for a 4th rounder increases our chances of getting someone from 0% to 5%
    and getting a free “lottery ticket” as you put it isn’t the worst thing (or even trade) this team has done in the past 24 months, looking at you perreault for – you guessed it- a fourth rounder.

  • Jonah

    grubauer, holtby.
    we’re good.
    *insert dale hunter “bad bad bad bad” gif here*

  • Jonah

    it still hurts

  • Jonah

    “needs more play, like tom wilson”
    did you wear a canadian hockey sweater this winter, cus you just hit gold.

  • Eric Schulz

    What you are saying here pretty much aligns with my response when talking about Zetterberg and Datsyuk; I mentioned how trading a proven player like Perreault for a low pick is atrocious, but that if we weren’t going to resign Halak, then it’s fine to add a pick, no matter how low (although of course you’d rather have a higher one; the market dictates that a 4th is about a round higher than I would’ve expected too, so I’ll take it). My point was just that it’s nearly a worthless pick. People seem to think that it’s as valuable as a 4th in the NFL or something, and it’s nowhere near valuable.
    That makes it a smart trade by the Isles; they badly, badly need goaltending, so if you think he’s going to garner maybe a 5th, you can feel fine making it a 4th and getting first crack at him. It’s a smart trade on their end. If we weren’t going to resign him, it’s better to get something than nothing, but let’s not overvalue the pick.
    Part of me feels like I’d rather have kept him and seen how the Cap moved for next year; we could really use a veteran guy to team with Holtby. I don’t want to rely on Grubauer as the backup, for a few reasons. Given how relatively worthless the pick is, I’d’ve been fine with keeping him and seeing how the new GM, once installed, handled Halak. Even a small chance at keeping him would’ve been worth it, I think. It’s hard to imagine keeping Grabovski and making any significant trades to bolster the D and/or add a center, AND keep Halak, but at this point, as optimistic as I am that we keep Grabovski at least, who knows how it’ll play out? If we aren’t able to keep Grabovski, I think re-routing his salary to Halak would’ve made some sense (although now that I think about it, I’m not as familiar with the upcoming FA Cs this offseason as I am the D, so maybe there’s a replacement… almost certainly not though). Oh well… in the end, he probably would’ve walked anyway.

  • Mike Logan

    Pavel datsyuk – 7th round
    Hank Zetterberg – 6th round
    Nyquist – 4th round
    Nik 7-time Norris winner Lidstrom – 3rd round

    The list goes on. Only in GMGMs mind are late-round picks worthless.

  • Matt Root

    I’d say it tells Halak had no interest whatsoever in re-signing with the Caps. I don’t see this as some vote of confidence in Holtby.

  • Matt Root

    Basically they gave the Isles rights to discuss a contract with Halak before FA begins.

  • Fedor

    I think they need to get a goalie prospect at this Draft. Just not one of the highly-touted ones (Demko/Nedeljkovic)

  • Jonah

    also not to bring this back up but…
    Braden Holtby, 2008 4th round draft pick, hows he been for us? oh right, pretty F—in good.

  • Team Slovakia

    He should have left his goalie mask plain white. Now he’s going to have to get it repainted and change his goalie pads.

  • Jason

    I don’t get why everyone is saying that this was a good deal. Let’s look at this objectively:

    We picked him up for a 3rd round pick, plus two players.

    We’re ditching him for a 4th round pick.

    He’s not worth holding on to at the asking price, and the general feeling is that he underperformed compared to what he’s likely to get on the market.. but no matter how you shake this out, we’re getting the short end here.

  • Alex

    It’s actually an attempt to sign him before any other team can. The only difference is the islanders traded away a 4th rounder for his negotiation right where as the caps traded 2 players for a rental

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, goalies are an exception, as I mentioned; using a 1st on a goalie is a horrible investment, and most teams have learned that, so almost all good goalies are found later, simply because so few goalies are even drafted in the first round.

  • Unofficial Capital

    I know why they traded for him don’t worry Alex. I just wanted to make myself feel better of my bad team by talking down on another bad team. #CapsFan4Life