Eggs Bennett 22-23
September 9, 2022
On Thursday the Montreal Canadiens signed their final restricted free agent when they inked goaltender Cayden Primeau to a 3-year contract worth $2.67M for an AAV of $890K. The contract is Primeau’s first one-way deal.
The deal is a little PDA from Kent Hughes. You might find the public display of affection description a little over the top for a business transaction, but I actually had some other thoughts in mind for the acronym.
It wasn’t so long ago that Kent Hughes made a public statement about the goalie pipeline in the Canadiens organization. With Carey Price’s future quite uncertain at the time, Hughes said the Habs did not have a starting goalie in the organization. The sentiment was tough to challenge at the time. Jake Allen was struggling with injuries, but even when healthy the veteran is best utilized as a platoon guy. Samuel Montembeault, playing behind an awful team and bitten by the injury bug himself, was not able to inspire confidence from his new GM. Primeau received a premature promotion, and the kindest description of his performance is that he struggled.
Hughes’ point-in-time assessment was justified, but then Primeau returned to Laval and performed at a very high level in the AHL playoffs. Perhaps the performance was enough to give Hughes pause. Perhaps he considered the mess he had inherited as GM and that Primeau had grown up in.
Perhaps he decided some patience was warranted.
What does this signing mean for the goalie situation in Montreal? Monty is already extended, and Hockey Analyst Kevin Weekes recently reported Hughes and Allen are talking extension. So how does the Primeau contract impact things?
My expectation is that it does not. Allen and Monty will share the net in Montreal and, unless injuries become a major factor again, Primeau will continue his development in Laval.
Primeau is just 23, still young for a developing goalie. He spent just two years in college before signing a professional deal, and his three years of development in Laval have been quite interrupted by the drama in Montreal. I would expect that every effort will be made to give Primeau a complete year to dominate as the starter in Laval.
The confusion that came with this new deal revolves around its “one-way” aspect. A one-way contract does not mean the player will play at the NHL level. It does not make the player waiver eligible. Waiver status is determined by a calculation of games played and pro seasons. Cayden Primeau remains waiver exempt and is fully eligible to play in Laval.
The one-way contract means that wherever he plays Primeau will receive the NHL-level salary. It’s a little perk for Primeau – an award if you will – to take the edge off any angst he may feel about his prolonged development pathway.
I’m sure Primeau expected his development would include time in Laval, followed by a role as Price’s back-up, perhaps transitioning to a platoon and then starter as Carey aged. All of that is completely on blink, and salary is one way Hughes can take the edge off the discomfort of that reality for his young asset.
When Hughes joined the Montreal Canadiens, he said the work ahead would take patience, that he wanted to prioritize development across the organization, and that he wanted to make Montreal a place where players would want to play. We see all these elements in Primeau’s PDA contract.