The Montreal Canadiens haven’t had themselves a legitimate starting goalie since Carey Price unofficially retired following the team’s cup run in 2021. This season has proved to be no different thus far. The team has been carrying three goalies on the roster so far this season. The goalies in question being Jake Allen, Cayden Primeau, and Sam Montembeault. This is due to the fact that the team doesn’t want to risk losing Primeau for nothing through waivers. However, the current situation isn’t ideal for the team or the trio of netminders involved. Therefore, the team has to make a decision on their three-goalie situation sooner rather than later.
Montreal Canadiens Goalie Options
Make a Trade
Rumours have been swirling since the beginning of the season that one of the Canadiens goalies would be shipped out. This rumour was confirmed recently by Elliotte Friedman on his 32 Thoughts podcast. Friedman said the Edmonton Oilers were interested in all three goaltenders, but more so Montembeault primarily and secondarily Primeau. Montembeault would likely fetch the Habs the bigger haul due to being the more proven goalie. However, he is a UFA at season’s end so the Oilers may want to strike a deal or get some clarity on how contract talks have gone with his camp and the Canadiens thus far.
Montembeault played very well last season on a weak and injury-riddled Canadiens squad. Whether he can be the answer for a team like Edmonton though is still unclear. However, at only 27 years old he is in the prime of his career and carries far more value than the veteran Allen and the youngster in Primeau. Jake Allen is also a UFA at the end of the season. Allen carries the largest cap hit of the three goalies in the system after signing an extension worth 2.875 million annually for two years. He probably doesn’t factor into the team’s future plans due to his age, so Hughes likely wants to capitalize on his value before losing him to free agency in the summer.
Wait it Out
The Canadiens could also wait out the season or at least until the Trade deadline. However, this isn’t an ideal situation. It decreases the value of Montembeault and Allen due to limited playing time. It also hurts Primeau’s development path as well as he is limited to only starting about one in every five games. If the Canadiens value Primeau enough to not risk losing him through waivers, they would be best suited to make a trade soon. Trading Allen or Monty would finally allow Primeau a full-time NHL role. This is something he hasn’t had yet at 24 years old.
If they do decide to wait things out until the summer, it does give them the added benefit of complete freedom in their goalie situation. Montembeault and Allen will be UFA’s so they can either sign them to relatively cheap deals or let them go and search for a starter in Free agency or via trade. Primeau has one more year remaining beyond this season before becoming an RFA so the team also has control over him and he would serve as the backup moving forward.
The Montreal Canadiens goalie situation is a tricky one. However, having three NHL-calibre goalies isn’t a bad problem to have. It allows them control and leverage in the goalie trade market. Also, due to their contracts, they have flexibility with all three assets. However, they should make a decision on what to do moving forward soon. They don’t want to risk hurting Primeau or even Montembeault’s development.
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