As article after article continues to pop up over the internet about speculation on off-season happenings, one thing specifically can be determined: The future of Cristobal Huet. After finishing the second of a four-year, $22.45 million dollar contract, Huet has been more successful at being a hindrance to the salary cap than to opposing forwards.
The most obvious note within his career stats is the fact that production and numbers have gone down since the Chicago signing. Obviously coming to the Hawks in free agency, and in a very slim goalie free agency class, proved to be a very costly move. With the Hawks in the process of building a Stanley Cup contender, they were looking for their next goalie to carry them to this moment. Unfortunately, one thing stood in the way of that… Cristobal Huet.
It was Cristobal that lost the starting job. Many look to the stats and would welcome those kinds of numbers this year. Unfortunately, what many fail to grasp is that they would need the cast in front of Huet that supported him to get the numbers he did. The Blackhawks took the most shots (2,798) of any team throughout the regular season, while they also allowed the least amount of shots (2,058). Any goalie would have been able to respectably come in and produce the numbers Huet did. It is the times when the Hawks offense struggled that the goalie needs to step up and provide that last line of defense.
Out of all 18 losses Huet registered, only 3 of them came when the Hawks scored 4 or more goals. While 15 out of his 26 wins came in games won by 3 or more goals. Basically pointing out the fact that Huet was consistently incapable of keeping the Hawks in position to win a game. Obviously winning starts with your goalie, as the Hawks proved in the playoffs. In that same circumstance in regular season, it was more about the Hawks offense controlling the tempo and providing that cushion.
As the off-season matures one of two things will happen. With a strong goalie free-agency class, teams will not trade for the likes of Huet. That leaves Stan Bowman and Rocky Wirtz the option to ship Huet to Rockford and eat that salary the next two years or cut him loose and take the cap hit. Salary cap wise it would make sense to send Huet to the Ice Hogs and let Corey Crawford or Hannu Toivonen battle for the back-up role in the 2010-11 season. Cutting the strings to Huet would create a $1.8 million salary cap hit that any Chicago fan could tell you will hurt.
My assumption would be sending Huet to the Ice Hogs. Regardless of the fact that you would now be paying $5.625 million to a “farm-team” player, the Hawks should have more than enough revenue from this season to cover that expense. Buying-out the remainder of his contract would mean one less veteran on a team that already looks to be bringing up players from Rockford to fill in voids this coming season. Either way, Cristobal Huet will not be wearing a Blackhawks jersey next year. All that has to be decided will be whether I can drive down and see one of the most fiscally disappointing signings of the decade or not.