Montreal Hockey Now learned that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen’s name has started to pop up again in trade discussions across the league, and despite the uncertainty in net, there is some sense in making such a trade before training camp.
The Montreal Canadiens goaltender has been a sought-after commodity dating back to the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, and the Habs could likely be testing the waters again should they get some good news regarding Carey Price’s health in the coming month.
“Hearing Jake Allen more. Stars or Coyotes make sense. Both teams have looked into him in the past, I know that,” the source told MHN late Wednesday afternoon. “Depending on what happens with Price, it could make a lot of sense for them and the Canadiens. Let’s say Carey’s good to go or close to by the time the season starts. Then, what if [Jake] Oettinger hasn’t been signed by then or he’s holding out during camp, are you taking the chance on Scott Wedgewood and a call-up as your goalies to start the season if you think you’re a contender this year?”
There are bound to be more teams of interest as well, as there are rumblings of a few teams looking to improve their 1A/1B combo in the goaltending department before the season starts. Although there is interest in Allen, the Montreal Canadiens don’t necessarily have to trade him, but there are a few reasons why moving him before the season could make a lot of sense for the club.
The Montreal Canadiens are up against the cap as we speak with just a little over 200,000$ in cap space, with restricted free agent Kirby Dach left to sign and a desire to add a right-shot defenceman to their lineup before the start of the season. According to our friends at Puckpedia, Jake Allen holds a $2.875M cap hit for one more year, which is an attractive number for clubs across the league looking to add an experienced veteran to their goaltending depth chart. The Canadiens currently have $14.3M locked up in the goaltending department, which is far too much for what projects to be a non-playoff team for this upcoming season.
As of this junction, the list of available goaltenders in the NHL via free agency is razor thin, making the search for potential starting goalies or luxury backup goalies a challenging task for teams. With the Canadiens owning three capable NHL goaltenders on their main roster, they may be inclined to trade Allen, who is set to be a free agent next summer, while the value on goaltending is set to be at a premium. The Canadiens could possibly get more to start the season for a player like Allen, especially if a club has a key netminder go down with an injury in camp, than he would at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Testing the waters on such conversations would be wise for the Canadiens, especially if Carey Price is trending in the right direction.
The Canadiens are currently rolling with three goaltenders on their main roster at the moment, with Price, Allen and Samuel Montembeault all having contracts for next season. Having three goaltenders on the club, while the team is also overflowing with NHL-calibre forwards, is not going to make general manager Kent Hughes’ job very easy when it comes to player movement. With the Canadiens being limited to a 23-man roster, having three goaltenders and what is seemingly looking like 14 forwards leaves the Canadiens with the option to carry just six defencemen, assuming they even have the cap space to do so.
With the log-jam at forward, where one of the 14 NHL forwards is waiver exempt, the Canadiens will want to free up some room without having to lose any value by way of sweetener, and thus moving a player like Allen would make sense, as they’ll get the cap relief, roster space and valuable return needed to make it a timely deal that could benefit the club long-term.
Although some may not see the sense in making such a deal and leaving themselves open to potential disaster in the face of another potential injury bug down the road, the Canadiens have seemingly made it clear that development, not winning, is their main priority. In that sense, ensuring they have the necessary room to allow them the flexibility to develop and add youngsters along the way is much more valuable than simply having a starting goaltender to start. With Allen set to be a free agent next summer anyway, the Canadiens will likely look to address their future in net in a more substantial way over the next year, which allows them to take such a risk, if the offer is too good to pass up.