Montreal Canadiens’ goaltending coach Stephane Waite was made available by the team via Zoom on a press conference to answer questions about the teams’ goaltending situation. As we know, team General Manager Marc Bergevin acquired Jake Allen and a 2022 7th round pick from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 3rd and 7th round pick in 2020 back on September 2nd. He spoke about the trade, what it means to Carey Price and touched on the goaltending depth in the organisation.
It’s easy to see how excited the organisation is with acquiring Allen. Stephane Waite says that Marc Bergevin hit a homerun by getting him. He further explained that Allen was on the top of their list of backups this off-season.
When asked about the difference between Keith Kinkaid and Allen, the Canadiens’ goaltenders’ coach was rather direct in his answer, feeling like there’s no comparison. “They’re in a totally different class”, answered Waite.
The plan is to play Allen around 30 games on an 82 games season (equivalent of 35-40%), leaving around 52 games for Carey Price. With the exception of 2015, when he was shut down for the season after only 12 games, Price has never played fewer than 58 games. Since 2010 he’s appeared in 72, 65, 59, 66, 62, 66 games.
Vegas (Lehner, Fleury), Boston (Rask, Halak) and San Jose (Jones, Dubnyk) are other teams who will be able to rely on two solide goaltenders. According to Waite, it is imperative to be able to do so in a shortened season where teams could face the possibility of playing three games in three nights.
How much work does Allen need in order to make him even better? Without going into details, Waite had this to say:
Allen doesn’t have one specific skill that stands out, but he’s good at everything. He has a pretty good technique, he’s sound, he’s calm in net. He lets the play come to him. He’s not all over the place. He needs to make some minor adjustments, like all goalies, but I don’t think he needs any major work.
The goaltending whisperer said that he received some texts from people in the St. Louis Blues organization about Jake Allen: “They said he is a great teammate and the most important thing is that he works very hard every day, which is very, very important for a back-up”.
Allen posted a 12-6-3 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 24 regular-season games with the Blues. In five games during the NHL’s Return to Play, Allen posted a 2-1-1 record with a 1.89 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
The 30-year-old is a veteran of 289 NHL games, posting a career record of 148-94-26 with a 2.50 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
Stéphane Waite, on finding enough playing time for the plethora of goalies in the system (Primeau, Lindgren, McNiven and Demchenko): “It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be a battle and we don’t know what’s going to happen with waivers and all that stuff”.
Waite feels that Charlie Lindgren is an excellent 3rd goalie. “It’s unfortunate that he suffered an injury at a crucial moment in his development. He could be called up allowing Primeau to play more games in Laval”.
Waite elaborated on Cayden Primeau. He mentioned that the plan is for him to get at least 150 AHL games of experience under his belt before eventually making the jump to the NHL. To put this into perspective, Primeau has played 33 AHL games so far, and two NHL games. It seems like the former 7th round pick could be there for a while.
But don’t misconstrue this as some sort of sign of lack of trust in the youngsters, quite to the contrary. As a matter of fact, Waite added that the Habs’ top goaltending prospect reminds him a lot of Corey Crawford – whom he coached in Chicago – when he was the same age and made allusion to “Crow” a few times in the interview.
The Canadiens have done a good job at keeping fans’ interest up and media members employed by having all sorts of people made available for press conferences so far. From the top with Geoff Molson, to Marc Bergevin, Claude Julien, we also had the opportunity to listen to Rob Ramage and now Stephane Waite. Can we get the puck drop on the 2021 season already? Go Habs Go!