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Canadiens Analysis

Top NHL Teams That Should Trade For Canadiens Goalies



Montreal Canadiens prospect Cayden Primeau

The Montreal Canadiens have reached the one-third mark of their regular-season schedule with three goaltenders on their roster.

It’s not an ideal situation by any means, and now that Kent Hughes has extended Samuel Montembeault to a three-year contract extension it’s time to resolve the issue once and for all.

Keeping Montembeault, Jake Allen, and Cayden Primeau in the NHL has led to reduced starts for all three, not to mention endless speculation as to their future with the team.

But the gamble may end up paying off for Hughes, as there are a handful of teams that are underperforming due to poor goaltending. Teams that could use an immediate upgrade before their weakness costs them an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs.

Shifting Stats

Montembeault has maintained excellent numbers throughout the season and currently sits ninth in the NHL with 6.5 goals saved above expected (GSAE), but Allen and Primeau have gone through their fair share of peaks and valleys.

As it stands, they’re peaking.

After a strong outing against the Nashville Predators on Sunday, Allen has now saved 4 goals above expected, good for 17th overall in the NHL. As for Primeau, he has saved 1.3 goals above expected, which is 27th overall in the NHL.

Neither Primeau nor Allen is elite, but given their recent results, there are decent odds they have impressed the scouts who have come to watch them play in late November and early December.

We should also note that the NHL’s holiday roster freeze is on the horizon. It will last from December 20 to December 27.

In addition, the Montreal Canadiens are set to embark on a seven-game road trip between December 18 and January 2. They’re unlikely to want to carry three goaltenders in their lineup in case they make a trade in that time frame.

Therefore there’s some urgency in the air from both potential trade partners in this situation.


NHL Trade Market

The first thing we need to remember is that goalies rarely garner healthy returns on the trade market. There are too many goaltenders available, and too few teams looking for goaltending help from outside their organization.

However, there are a handful of teams that are underperforming this year and are at risk of missing the playoffs if they do not upgrade their goaltending situation.


Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina has the second-lowest 5v5 save percentage this year, at just 89.57%. Only the Calgary Flames (89.32%) have received worse performances from their goaltenders.

Antti Raanta, Frederik Andersen, and Peter Kotchetkov currently rank 47th, 52nd, and 65th, respectively, in goals saved above expected.

The Hurricanes are a team looking to take the next step in the playoffs, but as it stands, they’re at risk of missing the playoffs entirely. The lineup is simply too talented to miss the cut, which may add some pressure when it comes to solving their glaring weakness between the pipes.

To make matters worse, Andersen suffered an unfortunate end to his season when medical testing revealed blood clots.

Cap Situation: Carolina currently has a little over $2.5 million in cap space, which will accrue to over $8 million by the trade deadline. The Montreal Canadiens won’t accrue any cap space this year since they placed Carey Price’s contract on the long-term injured reserve, but they do have $3.4 million in cap space left, which is more than enough to organize a trade in which the other teams sheds some salary in exchange for an upgrade return asset.


New Jersey Devils

The Devils are one of the most talented teams in the league. They should be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with their roster, but for now, they’re fighting for a wild-card spot.

They have improved lately by winning six of their last 10 games, but they’re still being held back by their lacklustre goaltending in the grand scheme of things.

They have the third-worst save percentage in the NHL, with Arkia Schmid ranked 59th in GSAA and Vitek Vanecek ranked 76th.

Consequently, they’ve been actively shopping for a goaltender on the trade market.

New Jersey is not looking to pay a premium for a goaltender, mind you, and that mitigates the potential trades they could make. A netminder like Allen may fit the bill, with the remaining year left on his contract acting as an insurance policy for a team that needs to shore up their goaltending.

Cap Situation: The Devils have roughly $1.35 million in cap space, which means the Canadiens probably would have to absorb a contract if they were to trade Allen.


Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers aren’t as desperate as they once were.

They’ve won seven games in a row, powered by Connor McDavid’s generational talent.

But if they do want to finally make a healthy run in the playoffs, they’ll want to improve their goaltending situation. Calvin Pickard has played well, but both Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell have failed to meet expectations. They rank among the worst goaltenders in the NHL.

Skinner has played better in December, mind you, but to sum things up, the Oilers, who have Stanley Cup aspirations, have received the fourth-worst goaltending in the league this season.

Seeing as they have two of the best players in the world in the lineup, improving their long-term weakness doesn’t just make sense, it’s overdue.

Cap Situation: Edmonton is tight up against the cap. Any trade would have to involve salary heading the other way. This presents the Canadiens with an opportunity to not only receive an asset for a goaltender like Primeau or Allen but perhaps even improve the return by adding a bad contract to the mix. The Oilers have shown interest in the Canadiens’ goaltenders in the past and were in town on Sunday to watch Allen hold the fort versus the Nashville Predators.


Los Angeles Kings

Speaking of scouts, Bill Ranford was also at the Bell Centre on Sunday. He’s the Los Angeles Kings’ director of goaltending.

The Kings have received decent goaltending, particularly from Cam Talbot, but Pheonix Copley has struggled, and they’d be wise to shore up their goaltending before the playoffs.

Unlike the Seattle Kraken or Tampa Bay Lightning, who could also use an upgrade between the pipes, the Kings are a strong goaltending duo away from being considered Stanley Cup favourites.

Cap Situation: They have the incentive, but the cap space is another story. They’re not in a desperate situation, but they do have less than $2 million available under the salary cap. The teams may have to get creative to pull off a trade, but it’s definitely within the realm of possibility.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Montreal Canadiens goaltending stats via Money Puck.

Team goaltending stats (5v5) via Natural Stat Trick.