The Montreal Canadiens have an excess of goaltenders on their roster, especially since they acquired backup Casey DeSmith in one of the many trades that included Jeff Petry.
General manager Kent Hughes has discussed the issue, explaining that he promised not to bury DeSmith in the minors. Hughes has been rather transparent since taking over from Marc Bergevin, creating the same level of trust he enjoyed with his clients while he was a player agent. This means he’s likely to keep his word, but as previously discussed, finding a home for DeSmith will be a difficult proposal.
Most teams have an abundance of goaltenders in their system, and since the season is yet to begin the options are quite limited due to a lack of injuries.
However, the possibilities for a trade partner improved when Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz was reported to still be recovering from off-season surgery, meaning there are chances he won’t be ready by the time the season starts.
Consequently, the Avalanche are currently shopping for a goaltender as an insurance policy.
#Avs appear to be examining options on the goalie market. Sounds like Pavel Francouz has not completely recovered from his offseason adductor surgery and there is concern he will miss some time.
Francouz made just 16 starts for the Avalanche last season.@DailyFaceoff
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 14, 2023
There’s been no official report about the Avalanche’s interest in a Canadiens goalie, but given their recent trade history, it would be surprising if the teams don’t at least touch base about another potential deal.
Colorado is once again entering the season with very little cap space. As it stands, they’re about $7 million above the 2023-24 salary cap, however, they’re yet to move captain Gabriel Landeskog’s contract on the long-term injury reserve.
Once Landeskog and Francouz are placed on LTIR, the Avalanche will have roughly $2 million in available cap space, which could play in the Canadiens’ favour.
Montreal has two goaltenders who are currently making less than $2 million per season: DeSmith and Samuel Montembeault.
DeSmith is a little more expensive ($1.8 million AAV) than Montembeault ($1 million AAV), but he’s also likely to come with a much more reasonable price tag when considering the expected return to the Habs. The Avalanche would have an opportunity to acquire an experienced, reliable backup for pennies on the dollar.
If they’re so inclined, the Avalanche can make an offer for Montembeault, though you’d expect the Habs would want a legitimate asset in exchange for their starting goaltender. Given that Montembeault has one of the most reasonable contracts in the NHL, Colorado may see him as a better fit for their long-term plans. He’d allow them to navigate their precarious salary-cap situation with a little more ease, giving them precious financial maneuverability by the time the trade deadline rolls around.
We have to consider the goaltender market in the NHL is very weak, and the Avalanche may want to see which goaltenders are placed on waivers to start the season, which means Canadiens fans should not hold their breath for a significant return on either player.
Montreal Canadiens salary cap information via Puck Pedia