For two months, Jaroslav Halak was a hockey god in Montreal.
After taking the No. 1 goaltender job from former first-round draft pick Carey Price midway through the season, Halak was a dominant figure in the Canadiens' surprising run to the Eastern Conference Final, helping to dispatch Washington and Pittsburgh, both in seven games, in stunning upsets. Obviously, it threw a bunch of gasoline on the year-long fire that was the Price vs. Halak debate, and resulted in speculation as to which of the two would have a new home for the 2010-11 season. After all, that town isn't big enough for both of them.
On Thursday, the Canadiens made their decision and sent Halak -- currently a restricted free agent -- to the St. Louis Blues for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.
Eller was the Blues' first-round pick (13th overall) in 2007, and spent this past season -- his first season in North America -- split between Peoria of the AHL and St. Louis. He scored two goals in seven games at the NHL level, and led the Rivermen with 57 points in 70 games at the Minor League Level.
Obviously, there are two rather large questions that come to mind in the immediate wake of the deal: 1) Did Montreal deal the right goalie, and 2) Did it get enough in return?
Still, the potential for this to come back and bite Montreal is real.
For the Blues, it's a trade that is absolutely worth making, even if Halak regresses from his incredible postseason performance. Eller is a fine prospect (he's the best of the two going to Montreal), but for a playoff-tested goalie that has already shown he has the ability to lead a team deep into the postseason, it's a risk worth taking.
Chris Mason, the Blues' starting goalie the past two seasons, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.