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Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens State Of the Rebuild – Current NHL Talent – Goaltenders



Montreal Canadiens Cayden Primeau

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have completed their second complete rebuild season, it’s time to take a closer look at where the organization stands in terms of its long-term plans.

The ‘State Of The Rebuild’ series will evaluate several categories, including current NHL talent, prospect value, draft capital, trades, coaching, contracts, and management.

Today we will examine the team’s professional goaltenders.

State Of The Montreal Canadiens Rebuild Series – Published

Goaltender Statistics

Samuel Montembeault – 16-5-9 – 3.14 GAA, .903 SV PCT%

Cayden Primeau – 8-9-4 – 2.99 GAA, .910 SV PCT%, 2 SO

Reassuring Development

The Habs went through a relatively lean period following the unofficial retirement of legendary netminder Carey Price.

While the franchise has always defined itself by the play of its All-Star goaltenders, the move away from a franchise goalie was a necessary step when evaluating the current salary cap landscape in the NHL.

That’s not to say Price held the team back, but his contract absorbed more than 13 percent of the salary cap expenditures, limiting investments in other areas. More importantly, his excellent play masked many of the team’s shortcomings, an issue that tends to come to the forefront in the playoffs.

Now that the team has moved on to a less traditional two-goalie system, the Habs will be forced to ensure every position on the ice is reinforced if they’re to take the next step in their rebuild.

MUST READ: Canadiens Management Prepare To Take Next Step

The most notable development has been the play of Samuel Montembeault, who was originally claimed on waivers by Marc Bergevin as a stop-gap measure.

The 27-year-old goaltender is a perfect example of how goaltending development is far from linear. It takes a little longer for goalies to find their rhythm in the NHL, especially if you’re dealing with a wrist injury, as was the case in 2021-22, or you’re sharing the starts with two other goaltenders, as was the case in this season.

With that in mind, Montembeault’s downtick in results in the final stretch of the season is concerning, but not overly surprising. He spent the majority of the season as one of the top-15 goaltenders in goals saved above average, however, due to a few poor starts his numbers dipped to 27th overall in the NHL.

The real test starts next season when he can approach training camp knowing there are very good odds he will set a career-high in starts.

You could suggest Cayden Primeau is in the same situation, though his goaltending career has been plagued by brutal usage for longer than his counterpart.

Simply put, Primeau has dealt with a three-headed monster in the crease since the very moment he made the jump to professional hockey. In that sense, his streak of solid starts to close out the year is probably the first time we can legitimately judge his play without having to weigh a bevy of factors that are holding him back.

Consider this.

Primeau hovered below the top 32 goaltenders (GSAA) in the league right up until the Montreal Canadiens traded Jake Allen to the New Jersey Devils. Following the trade, Primeau managed to climb to 18th overall in the NHL, ahead of such goalies as Igor Shesterkin.

We also have to keep in mind this is the first time Primeau has produced numbers that you could consider to be encouraging as to his long-term NHL aspirations, which means we shouldn’t get too excited, but again, this was the first time he could focus on starts rather than worrying about the next time his name would be pulled out of the starting goalie sorting hat.

Minor League Progress

Jakub Dobes had a difficult start to his professional hockey career, but the three-headed monster in Montreal also meant the Laval Rocket were shorthanded at a very important position.

Dobes had zero professional hockey experience before being thrust into the spotlight due to the awkward goaltending situation, and it showed.

Fortunately, Dobes is the type of athlete who will not rest until he improves his overall play because he hates losing with a passion.

He showed some improvement early on, but it was clear the rigours of a full season were too much for Dobes and Strauss Mann. It was only after the Rocket signed veteran Kasimir Kaskisuo that Dobes started to settle down.

He finished the season with a very respectable .909 save percentage, and you’d be hard-pressed to argue he was the reason Laval failed to qualify for the playoffs.

If Kaskisuo is amenable to this idea, maintaining the same duo in the crease should lead to improved numbers next season, not only for both goaltenders but the team as well.


Montreal Canadiens Brass Tacks

I still have my doubts as to whether Primeau or Montembeault will ever become a bonafide starter in the NHL.

And that’s perfectly fine.

The era of goaltenders who drag their teams to the playoffs is on its way out, leaving teams like the Winnipeg Jets to wonder what they will do with their expensive situation in the crease.

To make the playoffs, you need four or more star players, decent underlying numbers, and someone who will provide above-average goaltending.

The Habs haven’t quite developed the right number of stars yet, and their possession statistics leave something to be desired, but they have the last part under control. To make matters more interesting, both Primeau and Montembeault are signed to very reasonable contracts, which gives the Habs more financial maneuverability to improve the various other organizational weaknesses.

At best, the Montreal Canadiens can count on two relatively young goaltenders to improve their play now that they can focus on their upcoming games with a little more clarity.

At worst, either Montembeault or Primeau can hold the fort until someone like Jacob Fowler is ready to make the jump to professional hockey.

To put it simply, the goaltending situation is good, not great, and that’s all you really need at this point of the rebuild.

Montreal Canadiens State Of The Rebuild Grade – NHL Goaltending: 7.5/10

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Just because someone is good in college or junior does not mean it will translate to the NHL, so calling Fowler a future starter is premature (the same was said about Zachary Fucale, etc.) Also Primeau severely outplayed Montembeault in the second half and if Monty had stole more games like the season before Montreal could have been a lot closer to a playoff spot.


I totally agree. Where’s that little Latvian goalie who almost stopped the powerhouse Canadians in the Olympics? Oh that’s right, not in the NHL. Silovs, I think his name was, he was a TBL prospect was dealt to the Isles but hasn’t made it.
Fucale did start a few games this past season or the one before as I recall, but yeah, it’s foolish to talk about them like they’re gold at this point.
On defence, what happened to the highly touted Dietz and Dalton Thrower? You’re not in the show until you’re in the show.


I have no stats to back this up, but Primeau is reminding me of Charlie Lindgren. Good skills but unreasonable expectations in terms of development speed.


Don’t forget that we will have to navigate Price’s bloated contract. That affects all manner of roster formation.

Now that Arizona is finally toast–YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!–Sadly, teams have nobody to dump their LTIR garbage on. It was the only way that team ever got to the floor. So there is no trading Price’s contract anymore.
There can be no talk of the goaltending situation without this, it makes everything harder.

The NHL needs to make allowances for this. If a player is never coming back, and that’s known, the team shouldn’t have to keep covering that contract forever. Carey Price showing up for 3 or 4 games per year, waving to the crowd in his cowboy hat doesn’t help the team do anything, so get them off the cap when they’re finished.
It’s stupid to keep punishing teams when star players suffer career ending injuries.