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Chris Mason surprised by the Jaroslav Halak trade

Jun 18, 2010, 12:45 PM EDT

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Mason1.jpgYesterday’s trade that sent Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues
sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world. After all, Halak was the
promising young goaltender that the Canadiens have been looking for and
the one that carried the Habs on his back past the Capitals and the
Penguins. Yet Pierre Gauthier made it known that the Canadiens were
sticking with the frustrating Carey Price.

According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

But when Blues incoming general manager Doug Armstrong contacted the
Canadiens recently, he learned the unexpected. “The initial call was
just to say, ‘We may be in the market for a goaltender,'” Armstrong
said. “They had two young goaltenders. I asked (Pierre Gauthier) what
direction he was going to go in. He told me he was going to keep Carey
and make Jaro available. That spurred the conversation to the first
phase of the assets he would need back.”

The trade also ends contract negotiations with Chris Mason, who had
hoped to work out an extension with the Blues before becoming a free
agent in July. Both Mason and his agent were surprised by the trade as
they were under the impression that the Blues wanted Mason back.

“It was just a matter of getting confirmation and getting everything
in order. It was delayed a couple of times and now we know the reason
why. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was disappointing. I loved being a
St. Louis Blue and I thought I was going to continue to be.”

Still, once you get a look at what has happening behind the scenes
the fact that he Habs traded Halak should come as no surprise. Doug
Armstrong hinted that the Habs had made the decision to stick with Price
early on in the offseason, and agent Alan Walsh has said that he had no
negotiations with the Canadiens on a contract for Halak — even after
he took his team to the brink of the Stanley Cup finals.

But what about the return? Halak is set to be a RFA, but you would
have expected the Canadiens to be able to get more than a few top
prospects for his rights. James
Mirtle of the Globe and Mail
says that the goaltender market had a
say in what the Habs could get for Halak:

There are
going to be a lot of servicable goalies available and it could even be
that the players are fighting each other to try to get the few No. 1
roles out there. Here’s a quick idea of the 10 top netminders set to
become free agents on July 1:

Nabokov, Turco, Niittymaki, Mason,
Ellis, Leighton, Theodore, Biron, Hedberg and Emery

There are also
a few backups beyond that as well, meaning that it’s quite likely we
see several goaltenders unable to find NHL teams this summer.

The
number of goaltenders that will be on the move this summer is
astounding, so it’s no wonder the return wasn’t exactly what the Habs
fans would hope for if Halak was traded.

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