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In Hainsight: Netting the Profit

May 21, 2023, 12:32 PM ET [163 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The previous Montreal Canadiens’ regime built its team from the net out with a heavy focus on defense, that gave fans years of marveling at Carey Price’s amazing saves but being completely starved for offensive talent. Kent Hughes made it clear that those days were over as soon as he took the helm, when he was introduced to the press, he outlined his vision for the Habs by saying that in a perfect world, his Canadiens would be a fast-paced offensive team. Not long after, he put his money where his mouth was, appointing a former NHLer player who was an offensive wizard as his head coach.

Last season, the fans were treated to some exciting hockey even with a gazillion of injuries and no one complained about that. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are coming along nicely, hopefully Juraj Slafkovsky can improve on his rookie season which was cut short for medical reasons and the blue line is younger, faster and more mobile than anything Bergevin ever put together himself. The biggest question mark though ever since it was made clear that Carey Price was in no state to play is in net. Jake Allen was extended as an insurance policy, but the veteran performs better as a back-up and with a big workload, he’s had more than his share of injuries. It was once thought that Cayden Primeau would be Price’s successor, but 6 years after being drafted, it’s still hard to predict what kind of career he’ll have.

Thankfully, during the 2021-2022 season, the Florida Panthers put Samuel Montembeault on waivers and the Canadiens pounced on the Becancour native. Last summer, Hughes signed him to a 2-year extension worth a million dollars per year. After seeing him play this year, this is turning out to be a masterful move by the GM, but with a single year remaining on his contract and the cupboard being rather bare goaltender wise it might be an idea to extend him. Right now, the 26-year-old is acting as Team Canada’s number 1 goaltender at the World Championships and he’s doing a very good job of it. In 3 games, he’s allowed 4 goals and has a GAA of 1.31 with a save percentage of .954, granted, he’s yet to face the biggest teams, but so far, so good. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be hoping to capitalize on his performance during his next contract negotiations.

Truth be told, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Montembeault just yet and I believe he’ll keep on maturing and developing as the Canadiens improve and move towards contention in the coming seasons. At the end of his current deal, the goaltender will be an unrestricted free agent which does give him some leverage as many teams are struggling to find reliable goaltending nowadays. The Athletic’s Marc Antoine Godin reported this week that 3 26-year-old goalies had recently signed deals: Korpisalo signed for 2 years at 2.8 M with Columbus, Philipp Grubauer signed for 3 years at 3.33 M with Seattle and Vitek Vanecek inked a 3-year pact at 3.4M per, none of them were pending UFAs though.

Given the fact that Montembeault is still in an upwards trajectory, he’s not in a position to break the bank just yet and it feels like he’ll want to bet on himself to show what he can do and really cash-in at a later date, so I’d expected another 2-year contract for him with the Canadiens. How much for? Well, that’s the million dollar question and I’ll admit I’m glad that’s for Kent Hughes to figure out and not for me….

Speaking of goaltenders, Denmark’s Frederik Dichow who was drafted 138th overall by the Canadiens in 2019 was also having a good tournament (even though his numbers are not as good as Montembeault .911 SP and 2.30 GAA), but after stopping all 15 shots he faced in the first frame of Denmark’s tilt with the USA he had to leave the game after being crashed into. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious, the “Gnome” as his teammates call him looks promised to a bright future and it will be interesting to follow his development in the years to come. The Canadiens have yet to sign him to a contact, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened sooner rather than later, time will tell though.

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