If Carey Price isn’t back with the Montreal Canadiens next season, who could or better yet, who should be their goalie for the 2022-23 season and potentially the next few?
Things have been quiet on the Carey Price front since the longtime Montreal Canadiens goalie admitted to the media that he was contemplating retirement back on April 30. In the days since that season-ending media session with Price, general manager Kent Hughes and vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton have maintained the stance that Price’s future is obviously up to him since he’s earned that right. However, they’ve also acknowledged that Price’s decision will indeed affect their moves in unrestricted free agency and the NHL trade market.
Obviously, if Price retires or goes on long-term injury reserve again, or if they were able to trade him, then the Montreal Canadiens get freedom from his $10.5 salary cap hit but then who becomes the new starting goalie for the Habs?
Kent Hughes has already gone on record as saying a true No. 1 goalie successor does not exist in the Canadiens’ depth chart.
“There is nobody in our organization that has shown, year over year, that they can be a no.1 goaltender in the NHL,” Hughes said earlier this month.
The Canadiens could stay in-house to start the season and hand the starter’s role over to 31-year-old Jake Allen who has one season left on a contract that carries a $2.8 million contract in a 1A/1B type platoon, but with Allen’s recent injury issues – he only appeared in 35 games this past season – it’s likely the Canadiens would need a solid 1B if they don’t want to finish dead last in the NHL again.
Note: Some may rightfully argue finishing dead last again and having a legit shot at 2023 NHL Draft top prospect Connor Bedard, but something tells this puck scribe that Montreal Canadiens Geoff Molson would be up for tanking and low attendance again.
Heading into the do-or-die Game 5 with the Syracuse Crunch, Cayden Primeau is 2-1 with a 2.05 GAA and has a .939 save percentage so far for the Laval Rocket in the 2022 Calder Cup playoffs. After a brutal NHL portion of his 2022-23 regular season though in which he went 1-7-1 with a a 4.62 GAA and had a .868 save-percentage, with the Montreal Canadiens, the 22-year-old Primeau doesn’t appear to be ready to seize the top job between the pipes. Could he still be a solid back-up to a veteran goalie that could handle the bulk of the workload? Potentially, but he’s not ready to be a starter or be a 1B in a split scenario. The read here, is an actual full season in Laval in 2022-23 would be more beneficial for Primeau.
While Samuel Montembeault’s stats were far from great, no one could question his effort and willingness to face more rubber than Good Year Tires employee. The 25-year-old Montembeault faced 1,124 shots and allowed 122 goals. He finished the season at 8-18-6 with a 3.77 GAA and .891 save percentage. Like Primeau, Montembeault could be a back-up to a normal starter but not a goalie in the 1A/1B scenario.
So if the Montreal Canadiens decided to turn to the NHL trade market or unrestricted free agency, here are three goalie targets to keep an eye on:
Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals (RFA)
Just over a month before the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline, J-F Chaumont of the Journal De Montreal reported that the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals had trade discussions involving Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov.
Il y a très souvent un recruteur des Capitals de Washington au Centre Bell. Mais ce soir pour la joute entre les Blues et le CH, ils sont deux recruteurs des Caps.
Petite information à près d’un mois de la date limite des transactions.
— J-F Chaumont (@JFChaumontJDM) February 17, 2022
Montreal Hockey Now later confirmed that report and after another first round exit for the Capitals, big changes are expected, especially between the pipes. Should the Habs circle back on the 25-year-old Samsonov, who went 23-12-5 with a 3.02 GAA and .896 save-percentage in the regular season and then 1-3 with a 2.37 GAA and .912 save percentage in the six-game series loss to the Florida Panthers?
St. Louis Blues goalie Ville Husso recently lost the starter’s role to teammate and 2019 Stanley Cup hero Jordan Binnington in the Blues’ first round six-game series win over the Minnesota Wild. This however came after a breakthrough walk year for the 27-year-old Husso who is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Husso went 25-7-6 with a 2.56 GAA and .919 save percentage in the regular season, and while his poor playoff performance may affect his free agent value a bit, he is most definitely up for a hefty raise from the $750,000 cap hit he carried the last two seasons. Interestingly enough, more than one NHL scout and one NHL GM have confirmed to Montreal Hockey Now, that the Canadiens were definitely honed in on Husso when they had a heavy presence scouting Blues games leading into the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
Gorton was the general manager of the New York Rangers when the Rangers signed the undrafted Georgiev to a three-year $2.7 million entry-level contract back on July 17, 2017. Georgiev, 26, is now coming out of his second contract that carried a $2.4 million cap hit, and is set to become a restricted free agent again. Could Gorton’s ties to him and the Rangers help orchestrate a trade for Georgiev, who seems to be the odd-man out between the pipes in New York after Igor Shesterkin’s breakout season that has him up for the Hart and Vezina Trophies?