January 27, 2010

Price vs. Halak

Two years ago, in response to an e-mail from someone at Faceoff-Factor about M-A Fleury's poor start, I stated that:
There are very few 19-22 year old goal tenders (or players for that matter). For the most part players hit a sort of peak at the age of 24 (players still get better each year until 30, but at a much slower rate). Most young goalies cannot compete with the back-ups that are currently in the league so they are relegated to the AHL until they are older. Here are a few of the young goalies I found. Pay attention to the development as opposed to comparing statistics (In Roy’s days 0.900 was great goaltending).
Things have changed a little since then with:Mason, Backstrom, Rask, Pavelec and Varlamov also taking the #1 (or close) spots on the roster. Some are doing well others are getting by.

I write this because Price continues to receive substantial amount of critism from the Montreal media [archived version]. This isn't new in Montreal, they have been complaining about Price since he started. Prior to the 2009 playoffs these comments were quite common: "Will somebody please tell Bob Gainey to put Halak in nets before we are swept by Boston". I'm not sure if Montreal fans expects every goalie they draft to be the next Roy, but you cannot expect the same performance from a 22 year Price as 25 year old Price (or 24 year old Halak). Further to that here's the data for Price and Halak.As a result of management's insistence, Price has 126 games experience vs. Halak's 80.

One important part of developing a NHL player is experience. Halak and Price are at near equal performance levels (despite the age gap) and it would be wise to invest the player you have for another 4 years rather than the one you'll lose in two (or sooner). Giving games to Price is a wise choice because he is and will be your number one for a while. Halak does not want to be a number two and will move on as soon as he can. Why Montreal is holding onto two young goalies doesn't make sense to me. They really should choose one trade the other and get an experienced goalie to help Carey out.

That said, there's no question in my mind that Price will have a better career (assuming no injury issues) compared to Halak and that doesn't matter if you choose to measure performance based on game played, save percentage or wins etc. Sure, there are growing pains, but overall Carey Price is a great goalie, just Halak's done a little better so far.

1 comment:

Olivier said...

Lacking your database-fu, I simply looked at Halak and Price using GVT as a backdrop. Now, many people don't like GVT (heck, even I don't like it that much), but I tought that with 50+ games done in the season, it would be interesting.

Turns out that when you look at GVT contribution by positions, Montreal is 22nd with defensemen, 25th with forwards and 4th with goaltenders. That pretty much fits with what I've seen of the season.

So there is why methinks Gainey is holding on to these two most probably until this summer and maybe even onto next season: they are dirt cheap and they are the reason the club still has a shot at the playoffs, and the playoffs in Montréal (even a 4 game sweep as last year) is big, big money.

Now this summer, I don't know, we'll see.