Despite there being notable interest from rival teams, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t shopping goaltender Jake Allen at this time due in large part to the uncertainty of Carey Price’s health and it’s likely the right decision.
Jake Allen has been tasked with the impossible since joining the Montreal Canadiens in a trade with the St. Louis Blues. He’s had to step in as the team’s No. 1 goaltender for the better part of the last year, outside of Price’s exceptional Stanley Cup Final run last summer, and has performed admirably. The Montreal Canadiens received many calls on Allen leading up to the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline last spring, but ultimately chose to hang on to Allen due to the uncertainty with Price’s health, and it will likely be the case again this summer.
With Allen having one year left on his contract, valued at $2.875M annually, there isn’t likely to be much better value in terms of goaltending for the Canadiens on the open market when free agency opens up on July 13. If Carey Price is going to wait until training camp to test his knee and see whether or not he’d be ready to play, holding onto Allen as an insurance policy would have short-term and long-term benefits.
First off, having Allen around offers you an insurance policy in case Price isn’t ready to continue playing or suffers another injury throughout the season. Nobody wishes the latter scenario on Carey Price, but it is a reality that general manager Kent Hughes must be ready for, just in case. However, by keeping Allen into next season, the Canadiens can continue to have him around to give a sense of competitiveness to the rest of the club; as they played substantially better in front of Allen than Samuel Montembeault or Cayden Primeau last season.
If the Canadiens were, in fact, going to start with Allen on the team next season, he could immediately be pencilled in as a top trade target for the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, as the Canadiens are not likely to contend for a spot in the spring dance next season. With 50% of his salary retained, Jake Allen would become a very valuable commodity for a team in desperate need of goaltending depth. The argument of holding onto Allen then makes a lot of sense for the Canadiens, as it provides them value throughout the rest of Allen’s contract.
That being said, should Price be 100% healthy and good to go, it would make little sense for Kent Hughes, who’s actively looking for ways to reduce his payroll, to go into next season with over $13M dedicated to goaltending. The next month will likely provide clarity on the Montreal Canadiens’ goaltending situation, and Jake Allen’s fate will likely be tied to the outcome of that news.