Ah the goaltenders of hockey. A different breed, aren’t they? I mean, you have to be. Who in their right mind would stand in front of 100 mph slap shots of a frozen rubber, purposely putting your body in front to stop those pucks? Then add a bunch of people in front who try to block your view and obstruct you. And the net is behind them, where they can’t see it, but they have to ‘cover their angles’ without looking. They must have eyes behind their head! If you’ve ever put on the equipment, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
But we all love them. Well, most of them. By getting his hands on Jake Allen, Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin didn’t wait for free agency to address one of his team’s needs: a solid backup goaltender. And he’s being given tons of love since the announcement was made yesterday. Many – myself included – feel like Bergevin was smart by beating the market and not waiting for every team to be out of the playoffs before making his move. He found the goalie that he wanted and he went for it. They say that it’s a big off-season for goaltenders but how many and who will be out there?
Those who follow me know that I’m a strong believer that quantity rarely (if ever) surpasses quality. Looking at the goaltenders scheduled to become free agents, the quantity is definitely there when comparing to previous seasons. But what about quality?
Here are a few observations:
- There are 37 goaltenders who find themselves pending UFAs
- Off those, 22 have played at least one NHL game last season
- From that list, less than half of them (10) played a minimum of 30 games
- Only one of those 10 is under the age of 30 (Robin Lehner – 28)
- Six are over the age of 34
It looks like the Vegas Golden Knights might be tempted of re-signing Robin Lehner, who appears to have taken over the starter’s position in Sin City. This would then make soon-to-be 36 year-old Marc-Andre Fleury available through trade. But that will prove easier said than done considering that he comes with a $7 million cap hit for two more seasons. Further, he has a modified no-trade clause where he must provide the team with a 10 team no trade list. In 49 games this past season, Fleury had a 2.77 GAA and a .905 Sv%.
A Jake Allen flip?
Bergevin most likely acquired Allen as a solid backup for Carey Price. Although his $4.35 million is quite steep for a backup goaltender who might play 25-30 games or so. Also, with Price in net, Montreal is not your “new wave” team to run with two goalies like many teams do now days. Price is clearly a 1A and doesn’t need a 1B to split the load evenly. That said, chances are that next season’s schedule will be condensed with more games per week. Having a good backup will be key for teams hoping to reach the playoffs.
This is way out there folks, self-admittedly a HUGE stretch. But is there any possibility that Bergevin, seeing what’s available on the UFA and trade market, decided to get the best and most affordable goalie out there? His latest acquisition is only 30 years old and had a 2.15 GAA and a .927 Sv% in 24 games last year. If you compare that to the list above, he would rank in the top goalies.
So is it remotely possible that he might be tempted to package Allen in a multiplayer deal to acquire either a top scorer or a top pairing left-handed defenseman? What if a team in need of a starting goalie wanted Max Domi and Jake Allen in a package, for example? I doubt it to be honest, but to dismiss the possibility completely would be underestimating Bergevin’s wit. Getting Scandella for a 4th and getting a 4th and a 2nd for him… Getting Kovalchuk for nothing (and at $700k) and trade him for a 3rd, only to flip that 3rd for Allen… and the list goes on.
In the meantime, the backup goaltender situation seems to be taken care of. Now onto a scoring winger and some size on the bottom-six. Or is there still a need for a left-handed defenseman with Alexander Romanov having jumped the pond? Go Habs Go!