The Montreal Canadiens hosted their yearly golf tournament on Monday, an event that serves as the notice that the NHL season is on the horizon.
He offered solid analysis regarding the potential use of Samuel Montembeault, Jake Allen, Casey DeSmith, and even Cayden Primeau. He suggests that Montembeault should be the starting goaltender, which should allow the Canadiens to gauge his value prior to signing him to a contract extension.
As it stands, the Canadiens have indicated they’re in no rush to re-sign the 26-year-old goaltender. It’s the right approach given Montembeault’s lack of results before last season.
He also thinks the Habs should accept any sort of return for goaltender Jake Allen. Whether it is a prospect or a fourth-round pick, Waite points to Allen’s declining stats to suggest a trade would be the best way forward. It would also allow the Canadiens to give Cayden Primeau a legitimate shot at becoming an NHL goaltender, which certainly has not been the case in his few opportunities with the team since signing his entry-level contract in 2019.
Former general manager Marc Bergevin had told Primeau he would be in the running for a job in the NHL as early as 2020, therefore you can imagine how frustrating Primeau’s lack of opportunities has been for the young netminder.
It’s a strong argument, however, Allen is in the first year of a two-year contract extension that pays him $3.85 million per season. The contract also contains a modified no-trade clause that allows Allen to list a seven-team no-trade list, which makes the prospect of trading him rather complicated.
The same can be said for DeSmith, legitimate options for trades in his case are few and far between.
A Lack Of Respect
Shortly after, the RDS Twitter account posted a quote from Waite, who, to his credit, made a lot of sense in the segment that discussed goaltenders.
But the manner in which he expressed it was unreasonable.
“Every team has bad contracts,” said Waite. “But Gallagher doesn’t bother me, because he’s the real captain of the Montreal Canadiens.”
Brendan Gallagher commande un salaire de 6,5 M$ jusqu'à la fin de la saison 2026-2027! pic.twitter.com/NerYKk58r7
— RDS (@RDSca) September 11, 2023
To be perfectly fair, the quote did not seem to stem from any of the discussions that RDS put on their website, nor could I track down the segment in which Waite discussed Gallagher, therefore, there’s a chance it was taken out of context.
But if we take the quote at face value, there’s one word that comes to mind: disrespect.
Waite has not been with the team since 2021, well before Nick Suzuki was named as the 31st captain of the Canadiens, which means he has zero insight into Suzuki’s work as captain of the team.
It seems clear that Waite was trying to focus on Gallagher’s effort level throughout the years, and he’s right to point it out, but that’s rather easy to do without throwing Suzuki under the bus.
Not only was Suzuki the only player to feature in all 82 games last year (while dealing with injuries of his own), but he also tackled the responsibility that comes with being the captain of the most illustrious franchise in hockey with aplomb.
We must keep in mind that Suzuki was also the youngest captain in team history.
Whether it was the Pierre Gervais controversy to start the season or the endless stream of injuries and losses throughout the year, Suzuki gave clear and concise answers to the media, all the while maintaining a healthy locker room vibe in a situation that was certainly not conducive to building chemistry.
It was a learning season for all, including Suzuki, but you’d be hard-pressed to say he did not rise to the challenge when problems occurred.
On top of it, he never put the team in a tough situation by arguing with referees, and he also managed to set career highs in goals and points despite the lack of offensive support in the lineup.
It was a baptism by fire, and Suzuki emerged at the other end as a more complete player, as well as a better leader.
Of course, Brendan Gallagher has been a very important member of the organization for a very long time, and no one can take that away from him.
He literally put his body on the line for the Habs, but that has absolutely no bearing on Suzuki’s role as the undisputed team leader.
Nick Suzuki has received all sorts of unreasonable criticism since becoming the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, but if you ask the players on the current roster, they’d surely tell you that Waite’s comments are the furthest thing from the truth.