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Canadiens Montembeault’s Emergence Could Alter Goalie Strategy

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Montreal Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault

The emergence of Samuel Montembeault this season could possibly alter the Montreal Canadiens’ strategy when it comes to structuring their goaltending depth.

When general manager Kent Hughes proclaimed Samuel Montembeault as part of the Canadiens’ future moving forward last month, it was a public acknowledgement of his rise to prominence this season.

That’s because the 26-year-old, who’s only played a total of 93 games in his young NHL career, has been stellar for the Canadiens this season, all things considered.

He may have some modest statistics on paper, but the underlying numbers show that he’s been one of the most effective goaltenders in the league.

Playing behind an even more inexperienced defensive corps than last season, Montembeault has registered a .905 save percentage and a 3.31 goals-against-average this season.

However, according to Evolving Hockey, he currently ranks ninth amongst all goaltenders in the NHL in terms of goals saved above expected.

In Layman’s Terms, Montembeault has allowed 97 goals against this year in 30 games played, while the expectation was that he would allow 112 goals (based on the quality of competition he faced).

With both Montembeault and veteran Jake Allen signed at least through the end of next season, goaltending seems to be in good hands in the short term.

The Canadiens were initially unsure of their direction when it came to their goaltending at the beginning of the season; offering Allen a two-year extension to give them some flexibility moving forward.

 

However, with Montembeault rising to the role of 1B goaltender for the Canadiens as of late, it seems they now have all the desired flexibility they require to plan out their goaltending future without rushing the process.

Having a younger goaltender to share the load with Allen now gives the Canadiens a staggered, short-term succession plan; as they figure out if Montembeault could eventually take the reigns as a true No.1 goaltender.

 

From a developmental standpoint, Montembeault’s emergence also changes the urgency of an incoming heir apparent.

The Canadiens already have a few interesting goaltending prospects in Joe Vrbetic and Jakub Dobes, and they’ve been afforded some extra time to develop now that Montembeault has shown an ability to put the team on his back for long stretches.

It also allows the Canadiens to continue to draft some goaltenders in the coming years, with a few interesting options rising up the rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft.

It’s a far cry from earlier in the season when the Canadiens were said to be looking for a goaltender of the future on the trade front.

Having that kind of depth gives the Montreal Canadiens options, which general manager Kent Hughes is likely to take advantage of moving forward.

 

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Tyrone

Montembeault and Hrabal as the duo for the future? 😁👍

Pierre B.

Why Hrabal and not Bjarnason, Augustine, Gajan or even Hellnemo?

Tyrone

I just love the huge goalies. A 6’7” kid will allow me to live out the fantasy I had when we drafted 6’8” Jason Missiaen back in 2008. 😂

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