Well this is certainly a stunner.
Halak, the star of Montreal's surprising playoff run which saw the Habs pull off stunning upsets against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins this spring, was 26-13-5 with a 2.40 goals against average and .924 save percentage last season. He also recorded three shutouts while claiming Montreal's No. 1 goaltending job from Carey Price who has failed miserably to live up to expectations as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2005 draft.
In the playoffs, Halak was outstanding as he led the Canadiens to upsets on the road in Game 7s at Washington in the first round and Pittsburgh in the second round.
Halak, 25, was a ninth-round pick in the 2003 draft and led Slovakia to a surprising run for a fourth-place finish in the Olympics this year.
Eller (right), 21, was a first-round pick (No 13 overall) in 2007. He appeared in seven games last season and scored two goals. A native of Denmark, he appeared in 70 games for Peoria of the AHL and recorded 57 points (18 goals, 39 assists).
Schultz, 20, was a third-round pick in 2008. He appeared in 70 gmes for Calgary of the WHL last season and scored 55 points (24 goals, 31 assists) last season. He is the younger brother of Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz.
EN Says: Wow. Just stunning.
The Blues got a young, proven playoff peformer in net while the Blues got two prospects and only one of those prospects are what we would describe as "elite."
First the Canadiens. Why did they choose Carey Price (right) over Halak? Halak had done more with far less opportunity during his time in Montreal. As a top-five pick, Price has mostly floundered. It was pretty clear who was capable of leading this team in net. And it wasn't Price. The Canadiens chose potential and hype over results. Halak is a proven, clutch goaltender. Price is all hype.
And if they were going to trade Halak, they had to get much more in return than this. They needed to get back an impact player. Someone like a one-time 40-goal scorer like Brad Boyes or a top-two defenseman like Erik Johnson. Or even an elite, top-level prospect like defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. You can't trade away a No. 1 playoff goaltender and get so little in return.
Eller and Schultz may be legit top-six forwards some day (especially Eller), but we would go about describing them as difference makers.
Eller has potential as a playmaking center and is a strong two-way player. He could contribute immediately. Schultz (right) is a tough banger and crasher with some size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) and is likely a year or two (at best) from being NHL ready.
For the Blues, they got a playoff goaltender and gave up relatively little off the NHL roster. St. Louis upgraded the position tremendously over the likes of retreads such as Chris Mason and Ty Conklin. Halak gives them their first legit playoff goaltender since they had an aging Grant Fuhr in net in the late 1990s.
And we would argue they have the best goaltender in the Central Division now. We have a hard time not seeing them contend for the division title after this move.
While Halak is due a considerable bump in pay from the $800,000 he made last season, getting him under contract and under the salary cap won't be an issue for the Blues with forward Keith Tkachuk ($2.15 million) retiring and unrestricted free agent goaltender Chris Mason ($3 million) likely not re-signing.
(Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images; Eller-Photobucket; Price-Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images; Schultz-Linda Coward/Calgary Hitmen)