With the Sean Monahan dossier settled the Montreal Canadiens can move on to other pressing trade issues, such as solving the three-goaltender rotation which has lasted well over half the season.
Cayden Primeau has seen limited action, mitigating any semblance of value in his development this year, whereas Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault are surely running out of patience when it comes to the crowded crease.
The good news is that both Allen and Montembeault have played quite well this year, and while the bulk of the attention has focused on the latter, it’s only fair to point out that Allen’s results aren’t that far removed from his counterpart.
Montreal Canadiens Goaltenders By The Numbers
Canadiens fans are well aware that Montembeault ranks among the top goalies this season in a few important statistical categories, such as goals saved above average.
He has saved 7.4 goals above average at 5v5, good for 10th overall in the NHL.
But most fans probably don’t know that Allen has saved 6.4 goals above average, which places him among the top 15 goaltenders in the league.
If we consider that Allen has played fewer games than Montembeault, which means he’s actually saved more goals above expected per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time, the discrepancy between both netminders (or lack thereof) becomes a little more clear.
That’s not to say that the Canadiens made a mistake signing Montembeault to a contract extension, or that the team should hold onto Allen rather than attempting to trade him, but teams in need of a goaltender have surely noticed the rumours of Allen’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Jake Allen takes care of his rebound and the ensuing high-danger chances for Pittsburgh.
He's having a very good game. 11 high-danger saves at 5v5 so far. pic.twitter.com/4WOuDT9mkR
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 28, 2024
With the risk of losing a season due to a lack of netminder reinforcements looming for some teams, Hughes’ decision to keep three goaltenders in the lineup may pay off.
There are still quite a few teams interested in acquiring a goaltender. The Edmonton Oilers have managed to right their ship, but teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils are still hoping to shore up their goaltending depth as they currently own the second and third-worst team save percentages in the NHL, respectively. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche have also been mentioned as some of the teams combing the league for a goaltender.
On the flip side of the coin, the latest rumblings have suggested the price to acquire a Canadiens goaltender is high, or at least relatively high.
Traditionally, goaltenders hold very little value in the NHL’s trade market. There’s always a surplus available, which leads to bargain prices for interested teams.
But now that the Canadiens have managed to avoid using their last retention spot while trading Monahan to the Jets, the possibility of retained salary in a potential move including Allen comes to the forefront, especially since the Habs have a healthy amount of cap space, the greatest asset in the modern NHL landscape.
In the end, retaining salary may just be the avenue necessary to finally solve the three-headed traffic jam situation in Montreal.