Carrie Price feud with Canadians
Of course, up to a point, Price’s future is up in the air, after recent comments, saying he wants to “finish play at an acceptable level”, “is not a burden”. However, logically, considering Price’s decent performance in his debut against the New Yorkers and his salary of $7.75 million in 2022-23, will likely continue playing for the foreseeable future.
Given Price’s no-motion clause, it’s not likely to be anywhere else except with Canadians. Sure, you’ll likely see the price drop to go to a competitor especially after it took him 14 seasons in the NHL to reach his first Stanley Cup Final, but how many contenders have that much room for $10.5 million?
As general manager Kent Hughes explained after the trade deadline, he had trouble trading man defense Jeff Petrie as he would likely keep the salary for each of the three remaining man defense seasons. The price is four… with a bigger hit of $4 million ($6.25 million).
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Therefore, until the maximum salary jumps significantly, the price remains realistic in its setting. And the longer it takes for the salary cap to jump significantly, the older the price will get, which increases the likelihood that he will stay with Habs throughout his career.
Samuel Montembolt vs. Jake Allen
The real argument is whether or not this is a good thing. It’s pretty much a debate for another day, but it should be noted that by making it to the final, it’s arguable that Price has done well on his contract, however bad (and kinda worse, literally).
Therefore, under a more or less safe assumption that the price will remain in place for at least another season, it will need a proper backup, which can carry a large part of the load. While third-ride Samuel Montembeault has shown the ability to play a large number of games this season (36), his overall performance in those games is sadly decent.
It’s undisputed that Montembolt has made great games, but he also scored 3.78 goals against average (GAA) and 891 goals (SV%), which is not of an NHL caliber. And these numbers more or less correspond to his career so far. So while the squad up against Montembeol hasn’t exactly helped him take the load on a consistent basis, it’s hard to believe the 25-year-old will be able to land a permanent job in the NHL playing behind Price next season.
In contrast, Jake Allen’s .905 SV% (3.30 GAA) is the most you’d expect from a legitimate NHL backup in one of the worst defensive teams in the league. More importantly, Allen has proven that he can play consistently well in Price’s absence, even if the results aren’t always there. He has the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Award to prove it, too.
Allen also has one year left on contract after this one. Other than hitting his top, for Montembelt, there’s no good reason why the Hab should (try) empty the first. However, Allen’s $2.875 million success is more affordable than the first after he first came from the St. Louis Blues. It’s somewhat the running rate of a 1B goalkeeper, and that’s what the Canadians and Price need. More than ever in fact.
Canadians will be better next season. Admittedly, it will be difficult to replicate their success (or lack thereof) from 2021-22. However, if you factor in the reports that the Habs will be aggressive in free agency, it’s fairly clear that they won’t be trying out the gate next season.
In other words, Canadians will try this period. Until they give Hughes a reason to sell the assets, why would he so consciously go with Montembeault instead of Allen and improperly isolate the steadfast face of the franchise in the process? Does not make sense. Pay for rebate, you can upgrade perfectly on Allen, not downgrade.
Samuel Montemboldt vs. Kayden Primo
Having said that, Montemboldt proved to be a decent option in trouble. He’s just a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and the Canadians could do worse than keep him in the fold (if he clears the concessions). After all, Allen will be 33 by the time his contract expires. You will not necessarily want to re-sign it. You want an alternative option.
Perhaps by 2023, Montemboldt is ready to take the next step. Until then, he was better prepared to compete with Kayden Primo in the NHL initially, the latter obviously requiring a bit more spice as well.
Primeau has 80 AHL games. The plan was to keep him there for 200, so he still had some time to go, before he was ready (ideally) to take on Bryce’s job. At this point, it’s hard to say if he got there (due to a small mistake on his part), but there’s still a place for him in the team’s target depth chart in theory. Montembolt has just jumped over it for now, even if the primo roof stays higher.
Montembeault is more NHL ready, even if it should be another full season before he gets there himself, at least on a permanent basis. At least if all goes according to plan in 2022-23.
2021-22 is clearly a lesson in how everything can go wrong, starting with Price’s near-total absence for the long season. With him in good health, the Canadians already stand a better chance of competing next season. Healthy and relaxed, which is why the status quo in terms of the team’s current depth scheme in the network should remain the same. If Bryce stays (and he will) and stays healthy (which is hope will), and everyone else stays too. Simply.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as ever to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. After making guest appearances on shows like CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has also written for the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and has worked for the NHL itself and his hometown of Montreal Canadiens. He is currently writing about all things Habs for THW, with it being a career highlight for him to cover the 2021 Stanley Cup Final as a certified member of the press.