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Jaroslav Halak is a St. Louis Blue

So it looks like contract talks with Chris Mason are a thing of the past.

It was announced Thursday afternoon that the Blues have acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the Montreal Canadiens for forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

“Jaroslav’s play in this year’s regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs was remarkable,” said Blues President and CEO John Davidson. “He has had very impressive numbers in the NHL and we are thrilled that he will be wearing the Bluenote for us.”

The 25 year-old goaltender stole the spotlight from such stars as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin when he shut them down in the playoffs and marched his eighth-placed Canadiens all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Both series' went to seven games.

Against Washington, Halak lead his team to a seventh-game win, after being down 3-1 in the series after game four. He really shined in game five, when he stopped 53 of 54 shots for the victory.

"Our goaltender was really outstanding in the end, and probably made the difference," Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said after the game seven victory.

Pittsburgh was no different for the Slovakian goaltender; Halak made 37 saves in game seven to stun the Penguins 5-2 and move onto the third round.

"Oh, he saved the game again. There's no doubt about it. I don't know how many saves he made but we had an open net and he just battled and he was great,” commented Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang after falling to Halak and the Canadiens.

Montreal defenseman Hal Gill may have said it best when he was asked of Halak's strong play: "It's nice playing in front of him. He's so strong, you just try to take away the back-door, easy goals and let him handle everything else. I think as a team, we have committed to that. Block shots when you can, but for the most part try and let him see it. He's been great that way. Obviously we are not perfect and he has bailed us out every time we weren't."

One of the most impressive things about Halak may be that he was never respected to be a number one guy when he was working through the ranks. After being selected in the ninth round, 271st overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, he spent a lot of his time with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. He finally broke in as Cary Price's backup late in 2007-08, after the team decided to part ways with Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline. Since then he has never looked back, ranking fourth in the NHL in save percentage (.940) and ninth in GAA (2.40) in 2009-10.

Giving up prospects Eller and Schultz may seem devastating to Blues fans, but if Halak can bring to the table what he brought last season, it will be very clear as to why the Blues made the trade extremely soon. The only question mark at the moment lies in if the team can sign him, as he is a RFA heading into July 1. But with Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk and Mason all likely on the outs, a big contract awarded to Halak may be in the works.

If the Blues can retain the star goaltender, be ready for a monster playoff push, St. Louis.

Stay tuned in with Jeff Ponder's BluesNetMix blog by checking in every Tuesday at bluesnetmix.com.


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