Oh, to have two talented, young goalies. Well, at least it's obvious which of Montreal's goaltenders is better, right?
We've got 100+ NHL games for each of these guys, and their performance should be converging toward their true talent level. The odds are pretty high that Halak is a better goalie than Price, right?
Not so fast. Price has seen proportionally fewer shots at even-strength than Halak has, so we'd expect his save percentage to be lower. And his PP save percentage is also considerably lower than Halak, which is generally not a persistent phenomenon. Let's look at their even-strength save percentage:
The difference between Halak and Price's performance has been tiny so far. But, given how inefficient the NHL market for goaltenders is, that's probably not how people will see things:
1. They'll look at overall save percentage
2. They'll weight recent performance disproportionately (Halak's .924 SV% in 2009-10 vs Price's .912 SV%)
3. They'll weight playoff performance disproportionately (Halak's .910 vs Price's .895)
In other words, Halak is much more likely to be overvalued by someone than Price is. Even though Halak is probably a slightly better goaltender than Price, the Canadiens should deal Halak in the off-season. Price's value is reduced by poor recent performance, which should (hopefully) allow the Canadiens to sign him to a cheaper contract, and Halak's trade value is higher relative to his abilities.
I suppose this is a situation that paralyzes general managers with fear. They know that they have two good, young goalies, and they can't justify paying both of them to split time in goal. No matter who they deal, it could come back to haunt them if that player hits performance highs for another team. So the key is to get as much as possible in return for the player you deal - and the key to that is dealing the player who is most overvalued.