What’s the Fouss? Can NHL Clubs Make the 3-Goalie System Work Effectively?

Tom Mihalek/AP Photo

It was the Tweet seen around the world over the weekend.

Sports agent Allan Walsh, who represents Islanders goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Jean-Francois Berube, voiced his displeasure with the Islanders current goaltending situation.

After this Tweet became public, Islanders GM Garth Snow reportedly sent an email to the rest of the NHL general managers that made it clear that Jaroslav Halak was available for trade.


During the 2016 NHL playoffs, the Islanders did not have starting netminder Jaroslav Halak available to them because he was injured.  Berube, who was claimed off waivers by the Islanders earlier in the season, filled in behind Thomas Greiss during the playoffs.

The Islanders have kept the goaltending trio for this new season, which has certainly caused a bit of a headache for the club.


Usually in the NHL, teams will carry 2 goaltenders on their roster.  Most clubs have a clear cut starter, and a backup that will play a limited amount of games.

Jaroslav Halak has been the Islanders main starter for 3 seasons now.  He has a cap hit of $4.5 million that carries through 2017-18.

Halak, 31, has plenty of NHL experience, as he has played in over 300 games.  While it is not clear if he has requested a trade from the Islanders, most veteran goaltenders who are clear cut starters probably do not want to give up the net very much.

With Berube, the Islanders feel they have a pretty good prospect, and they probably want to see what he can do at the NHL level.  With Greiss, the Islanders have a serviceable backup, that can provide quality starts and win some games.

Having 3 goaltenders on a roster can be difficult, as most rinks only have 2 nets on the ice.  With more goaltenders than nets, it is hard to give an equal amount of icetime and practice time to all of the goaltenders in the rotation.

A 3-goalie rotation can work, but the circumstances have to be right.  For example, if there is one goalie that has a lingering injury, having an additional goalie around is not a bad option.  The injury may not keep the goalie out of action, but the goalie may have to take limited reps in practice, and may not be able to suit up for a game.

A 3-goalie rotation can also work if there are young goaltenders competing for the starting job.  Some clubs will carry young goaltenders that are not established, with hopes that one will emerge as the eventual starter.


With Halak as the clear cut starter, he should still see the most games and practice time in the net.  Halak should not have to fight for time in the net during practice.

If Halak has requested a trade, the Islanders should try to execute one.  If he has not, they should make some sort of other corresponding move.  If the Islanders feel that Berube could handle a backup role in the NHL, then the Islanders should try and move Thomas Greiss.  Halak’s contract is not bad, but a lot of teams are near the cap and may not be able to fit him.

There are pros and cons to the 3-goalie rotation, and it can work under certain circumstances.  The Islanders probably should have thought this situation through a little more, and should have made some sort of move during the summer.

I can see the arguments made from both sides.  This situation has turned into a headache for Garth Snow, and he should try and make a move soon before it causes turmoil within the locker room.

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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3 Responses to What’s the Fouss? Can NHL Clubs Make the 3-Goalie System Work Effectively?

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