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Canadiens GM Kent Hughes Must Resolve Goaltending Situation



Montreal Canadiens, Jake Allen

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have signed goaltender Samuel Montembeault to a contract extension, the pressing issue becomes resolving the three-headed goaltending situation.

If you’re wondering whether head coach Martin St-Louis also wants some clarity, the answer is yes.

Montreal Gazette beat reporter Stu Cowan asked St-Louis about it following the Habs’ 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday night.

“With the goalie situation, it seems like it has been a three-headed rotation, almost like starting pitchers in baseball,” said Cowan. “Is that going to be the plan moving forward?”

St-Louis responded by shaking his head and saying the following.

“I don’t really know. Taking it week-by-week,” he said at 14:42 of the post-game press conference.

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Frustrating Situation

It’s an understandable position.

Coaches love clarity, and for a coach like St-Louis, providing clarity for his players is very important. But he’s not the one keeping three goaltenders in the lineup, and therefore he’s at the mercy of general manager Kent Hughes, just like his goaltenders.

And when it comes to goaltenders, there’s nothing more frustrating than sharing your net with three players. I asked Primeau about it a few years ago in Laval, and his answer, while diplomatic, also pointed to an underlying issue. He was sharing the starts with Charlie Lindgren and Zachary Fucale at the time, but the three-goalie setup stayed in place for another couple of years when Michael McNiven took Fucale’s place.

“It’s really hard to find your rhythm when it’s not your net,” he explained.

Options Moving Forward

There are a few options that could solve the issue reasonably quickly.

The first is simply waiving Primeau.

Yes, it’s a risk, but if we’re being perfectly honest, Primeau has yet to show any semblance of consistency in the NHL. Part of that is due to his sporadic starts, which are out of his control, but we do have to admit that a goaltender with a .875 save percentage in the NHL probably won’t garner an abundance of interest, even if he can be had for free on waivers.

He’s 24 years old, which is just about the age where Montembeault started showing encouraging signs, but if the Canadiens can’t find him another home via a trade, they have to bite the bullet and attempt to send him to the Laval Rocket, where he can help alleviate the load on Jakub Dobes.

As for trades, a team may want to trade for Allen, but if that does happen, don’t expect the return to be healthy. Teams like the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils are still in the market for a goaltender, and Allen does provide stability in the sense that he’s signed for one more year, but as history has shown, the goaltender market is almost always slow.

MUST READ: Edmonton Oilers Showing Interest In Montreal Canadiens Goalies

Finally, despite the extension, there’s still the possibility that the Montreal Canadiens could trade Montembeault in a sign-and-trade deal. It’s always risky to trade for a younger player who does not have much term left on his contract, and some clubs demand a contract extension before they agree to a deal.

But regardless of which approach Kent Hughes takes, one thing is clear.

To maintain a healthy locker room, it’s time to resolve the cramped goaltending issue once and for all.