Eggs Bennett 22-19
July 20, 2022
On Monday, July 18th the Montreal Canadiens announced they had signed Samuel Montembeault to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value (AAV) of $1M. The contract is a one-way deal, which means his compensation will be the same regardless of whether he plays in Montreal or Laval.
Montembeault was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens on October 2nd, just days ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season. Carey Price, recovering from off-season surgery, was not expected to be ready for the opening of the regular season. Montembeault was claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers to play back-up to Jake Allen while Price recovered. Then on October 7th, Price announced he was entering the NHL’s player assistance program, and suddenly the addition of Montembeault became more significant.
Montembeault finished the season having played 38 games, posting a goals against average of 3.77 and an .891 save percentage behind a very bad team. He played the most games of any goaltender in Montreal last season, and on some nights that wasn’t a picnic.
This deal doesn’t tell us anything about Carey Price’s future.
The biggest question in Montreal this summer does not revolve around depth goaltending. Carey Price has still not determined whether he is able to return to the Habs as their full-time netminder. GM Kent Hughes has reported that they hope to know more in this regard soon. Some have asked whether Monty’s signing reveals anything about Price’s future.
If Carey has the green light to start the season, Montembeault becomes the third-string goalie for the Habs. If Carey needs more time, Montembeault will back-up Allen until Carey returns, and then he will resume his role at third in the NHL-level depth chart. If Carey learns he cannot return to play at all and Long-term Injured Reserve (LTIR) is the likely path, Montembeault will be the back-up until Hughes can replace Carey. With the Habs in a rebuild of some proportion, Hughes will likely not rush that decision, and Monty will be called upon to fill the gap.
Whatever the outcome is for Carey Price, Montembeault is not projected to be the back-up in Montreal for the long-term. He is an insurance policy until Carey’s future is known and the long-term plan in net can be established.
This deal may tell us a little something about Jake Allen’s future.
Jake Allen is entering the final year of his contract with the Montreal Canadiens. At the draft, hockey insiders were reporting considerable interest in Allen. Hughes did not bite at that time because of Price’s status. That said, as the season wears on and contending teams encounter goaltending challenges, or as we approach the trade deadline and playoff depth is being contemplated, Hughes will have to consider the return that Allen can fetch.
Montembeault can absolutely take on a bigger role to finish the season for a rebuilding team. Having Monty on the roster allows Hughes the flexibility to bite when the Allen offer he cannot refuse comes along.
This deal gives Monty a chance to craft his own future.
Montembeault may well be sitting in third place in the Habs goalie depth chart, but Montreal is where he has played his most NHL games. Carey Price’s knee, and Jake Allen’s status as a pending UFA, give him a decent chance to continue developing at the NHL level this year.
With the Canadiens in a rebuild, they have other priorities before they land a permanent plan in net beyond Carey Price. They need an NHL-level placeholder who can act as an insurance policy should Price be indisposed, or Allen be moved. Monty has earned that insurance policy role and was rewarded with a two-year, one-way contract.