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Canadiens Have Goalie Options Via Trades And Free Agency

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Ilya Samsonov

The NHL trade market is starting to heat up with under a week to go until the 2022 NHL Draft and then the start of free agency on July 13. If Carey Price isn’t back with the Montreal Canadiens next season, who could or better yet, who should be their starting goalie for the 2022-23 season and potentially the next few?

The simple answer right now would be Jake Allen but could the Canadiens decide to get younger and cheaper and unload Allen on the NHL trade market.

Things have been quiet on the Carey Price front since the longtime Montreal Canadiens goalie admitted to the media that he was still unsure of his future back on June 4 when he won the 2022 Masterton Trophy. In the days since the sobering  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.

If the oddsmakers had NHL betting odds on Price coming back, they would be 50/50 at best. 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 wouldn’t be up for tanking and low attendance again.

After a brutal NHL portion of his 2021-22 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, 22-year-old Cayden Primeau found his game again in the Calder Cup playoffs leading the Laval Rocket all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final before being eliminated by the Springfield Thunderbirds. Primeau finished with a 9-5 record, 2.17 GAA and .936 save percentage. 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 NHL trade discussions involving Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov.

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?

Ville Husso

St. Louis Blues goalie Ville Husso 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 and then regained it again in the second round when Jordan Binnington was lost to an injury. Husso struggled after that and the Blues lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche. 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.

Alexandar Georgiev

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.

Arthur Staple of The Athletic recently reported that Alexander Georgiev has requested a trade. However, as Staple pointed out, the Rangers could also just decide to not tender Georgiev a qualifying offer at the qualifying deadline in 10 days. If the Canadiens could just sign him as an unrestricted free agent then, why would they acquire him on the NHL trade market?

Could Gorton’s ties to him and the Rangers help orchestrate a trade for or get Georgiev as a UFA?

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habbernack

What’s wrong with resigning Allen? We’re not in the SC race. We have some decent prospects . Give Primeau in the AHL all year. If they have to call up , call up Poulin who was very good with the Rocket last year. MTL defensive system was horrid last year. 40-50 shots a game. If Price has to go through that every game he will never last the season.

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