Head coach Ralph Krueger announced on Thursday that Jaroslav Halak will be the No. 1 goaltender for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Halak most recently racked up 34 saves in Team Europe’s 6-2 win over Team Sweden in a pre-tournament game on Wednesday.
Krueger also had this to say of Halak via Brian Compton of NHL.com:
“It would be silly to play any type of games around anything. The way Jaro has come into this camp, into his games, the professionalism … we’re of course pleased to see him have that kind of a game tonight.”
Halak, who plays for the New York Islanders, earned the job over Isles teammate Thomas Greiss and Washington Capitals’ goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
The 31-year-old Slovakian was limited to just 36 games for the Islanders in the 2015-2016 season after a lower body injury ended his campaign in early March. He was originally selected in the ninth-round of the 2003 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. Halak started a total of 96 games with Montreal over four seasons before being traded to the St. Louis Blues ahead of the 2010-2011 season. Perhaps his finest individual effort came in 2011-2012 with St. Louis when he posted a goals against average of 1.97, one of the top marks in the NHL.
After 156 starts for the Blues, Halak was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres before being traded shortly thereafter to the Washington Capitals. He spent just 12 games in Washington before being dealt again to the Islanders. New York signed Halak to a four-year, $18 million extension in May 2014 and he made his first career NHL All-Star appearance in January 2015.
Team Europe will take on Team USA in the first World Cup game for each side on Saturday in Toronto.