By Russ Cohen
Mar. 27, 2007
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak has quietly become one of the better stories in the NHL. But his path to the Montreal Canadiens isn’t one any other goaltending prospects are likely to follow.
Halak is soaking in his NHL experience this season, knowing the odds were stacked against him reached “The Show” at all this season considering the Habs boasted Cristobal Huet, David Aebischer and top prospect Carey Price, who was the fifth-overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft.
Halak was selected in the ninth round in 2003. He was the 271st overall selection. Only 21 players were drafted after him. The 2003 draft will long be remembered as one of the best in history producing big-name players like Marc-Andre Fleury (first overall), Eric Staal (second) and Thomas Vanek (fifth). Halak is a part of a growing number of prospects from the later rounds who are making an impact in the NHL.
“I just try to focus on winning games and have fun out there,” Halak said of his stint with the Canadiens. “Keep them in the game. That’s what I am trying to do.”
In 2003, he played in Slovakia before moving to the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2004. The following season, Halak appeared in 20 ECHL games for the Long Beach Ice Dogs and then was promoted to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, where he played in 13 games.