This is no secret, the Montreal Canadiens have been looking to trade one of the three goaltenders presently with the club. Namely, Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau.
Kent Hughes and his staff may have a preference on which goaltender they’d like to send away but there are no untouchables, and they’re seemingly waiting for the right offer to come along, perhaps regardless of the player involved.
With that in mind, let’s weigh the pros and cons of moving each of these goaltenders.
Pros: Jake Allen has the longest and most expensive contract of them all, carrying a 3.85 M $ price tag this year, and next. He also is the oldest of the group, at age 33, and realistically, would not be renewed beyond the 24-25 season when his contract would expire.
Therefore, whether it’s now or by the end of next year, the writing is on the wall.
To complicate things, he has a modified no-trade clause, with seven teams he could refuse a trade to, that could tie Kent Hughes’ hands a bit. Next year, the clause will allow him to veto a trade to only three teams.
Now, for a team interested in his services, you know what you’re getting – he’s a safe bet.
He pretty much constantly hovered in the 0.905 – 0.910 save percentage (SV%) range his whole career and this year is no exception, as he is currently showing a 0.907 SV%.
Good save by Jake Allen on Heinen. pic.twitter.com/BxfCaE4LZb
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) November 19, 2023
The acquiring team would not be gambling for upside, but rather confidently purchase a stabilizing presence. This sounds like what the Edmonton Oilers, who desperately need to improve their goaltending situation, could use, right now.
Will they pony up?
Cons: Allen and Montembeault have very similar SV% but Primeau’s is much lower, at 0.885.
Losing Allen would likely mean a drop in backstopping for the Montreal Canadiens, leading to more losses. For a team who is currently on a losing streak, this may not be ideal.
Unless you are a member of ‘team tank‘, then this would be welcomed as a positive change.
Pros: He is the youngest and most inexpensive of the three, at just $890,000 per season for this year and next. On top of that, he only becomes a restricted free agent when the contract expires, affording the team he plays for control and leverage over his next contract.
A potential buyer would be banking on his upside and looking for a cheap option in net.
As the Montreal Canadiens are “loose” in terms of cap space, they could weaponize it by sacrificing young, cost-controlled assets, if it means getting something truly valuable back, and if they don’t see him as a part of their plans, going forward.
Cons: Patience is key with goaltenders, and it may be foolish to trade him too soon, only for him to become a legitimate netminder in this league. Plus, with his lukewarm NHL track record to date, it’s unlikely the return would be significant.
Just a ridiculous save from Cayden Primeau to end the night pic.twitter.com/o2zppKa9nt
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) November 17, 2023
Primeau’s shown some good flashes in the three games he’s played this season, and could very well be a great, cheap option for the next few seasons, as a Hab.
There simply is no rush to trade him. It would give the Montreal Canadiens time to get a better sense of what they have in their hands, by giving him more starts as an NHL regular.
Pros: Coming off a career year with a .901 SV% and currently riding a .908 SV%, he certainly has come into his own as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
He is also entering his prime years, at age 27, compared to the other two who are either beyond that sweet spot or just not there yet.
His team-friendly $1 million annual average value contract is set to expire this summer, so a team with an injured goaltender looking for a quick fix or looking for a cheap insurance policy could very well be interested. Carolina and Tampa Bay come to mind.
Remember, cap space accrues, and acquiring Montembeault’s very reasonable contract would allow teams contending to the Stanley Cup to maintain a healthy amount of cap space going forward.
He should be garnering more interest around the league and could fetch a better return than his aforementioned teammates.
That’s the recipe for a bidding war and Kent Hughes knows this.
This Montembeault save last night was incredible😟
— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) October 31, 2023
But the biggest pro might be avoiding a scenario where management offers him a contract he does not live up to – only to regret not trading him when his value was the highest.
Of course, that’s hypothetical, and I’m not suggesting that this is a likely outcome, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibilities.
Was his stellar play of last year and good play this year predictive of future success or an outlier?
Were his 11.8 goals saved above expected (13th best in the league last season) the new normal for him, or unsustainable? This year, he is ranking 19th in that department, a possible sign of regression.
But furthermore, should the Montreal Canadiens commit to a goaltender now, amid a rebuild, or wait until they are legitimate contenders before really shopping for a good one?
Recent Stanley Cup winners and contending teams like the Avalanche and the Golden Knights have elected to trade for goaltenders when they felt the timing was right, rather than bank on one before they were ready to make deep playoff pushes.
There may be value in following their lead.
With Monteambeault’s clan reportedly pushing for a three-year contract with a $12 million value, is it palatable? Or is it too rich for a club far from competing for a playoff spot?
Cons: Very unscientific prediction: the Montreal Canadiens will never win against him if he gets traded! Québécois players (goaltenders included) tend to have banner nights when facing the Habs, and you just know he will add fuel to that fire.
Jokes aside, imagine the backlash of trading a local kid who then becomes a legitimate starter; that’s a real risk. Is Kent Hughes willing to roll that dice, now? Or should he wait and see if “Monty” is for real, before parting with him?
It’s nice to have a Québécois player who wants to sign here and can handle the pressure of this market – albeit this is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. So, why trade him away if you can afford him? They sure have the cap space.
— HFTV (@HFTVSports) November 24, 2022
Plus, it’d be a shame not to see this amazing mask more often!
🚨SAMUEL MONTEMBEAULT 2023-24 @CanadiensMTL
Honouring J.Plante & the "Sainte Flanelle “ in a knitting 🧶 style and the Habs torch that past the generations.
Ce masque honore J.Plante et la 🧶qui fait un 😉 à la Sainte Flanelle, ainsi qu’au Flambeau qui traverse les époques. pic.twitter.com/TzEM72lJfF
— Sylvie Marsolais & Alexandre Mathys (@Sylabrush) November 17, 2023
Which goaltender should the Montreal Canadiens trade? Let us know in the comments.