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Samuel Montembeault’s contract negotiation: It wasn’t in Kent Hughes’ plans

Since the start of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have had three goalkeepers. You know that. What you also know is that this is not a usual situation in the hockey world. Not for nothing… nobody likes it!

Having three goalies on the team means that Martin St-Louis has to juggle an unbalanced line-up, with either twelve forwards or six defensemen (instead of having an extra on hand). I promise you, he could do without the extra headache.

It also means that the masked men can never really take their wanderings. You’ve got a good performance, no problem. You have to give up your spot because Samuel Montembeault wants #1 playing time. Because Jake Allen is waiting his turn. Because Cayden Primeau mustn’t be kept away from the action for too long, so as not to hinder his development.

Even in training, it’s trouble. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there are only two goals on an ice rink. There’s a reason for that. It goes with the number of goalies normally on a team. Having three goalies means fewer rehearsals in training, less quality time with Éric Raymond, the goalie coach, and less cohesion with the defensemen because there are fewer opportunities to practice game sequences with them.

And don’t tell me we can put an extra net on the ice during practice. Well, no. We can’t do that. I think I read somewhere that there’s a rule in the Geneva Convention against doing that.

So, I’m back to my original point, which is that NOBODY likes it.

So why is Kent Hughes doing this to his world?

So as not to lose Cayden Primeau to the waivers and get nothing for him in return?


But perhaps also because he needed some answers before making certain decisions. This week’s revelation that Samuel Montembeault and the Montreal Canadiens have begun negotiations toward a deal suggests that Hughes may have finally gotten those answers.

In the latest episode of Radio-Canada’s Tellement hockey podcast, we learn from Alexandre Gascon that this news came as a surprise to the journalistic community dedicated to covering the team.

According to Gascon, Kent Hughes surprised them with this revelation. Not that it’s surprising that at some point the two clans end up sitting down to talk, but because he never seemed to be very infatuated with his goaltender who was snatched up in the lottery.

“We were talking about it with Marc Antoine (Godin), who spoke with people in the organization […] and the impression we got was that it wasn’t clear that Hughes wanted to extend the association.” – Alexandre Gascon

Since the start of the season, the Habs have been carrying around three goalies. Yes, it was to keep Primeau, but it was also to get answers, and Hughes now seems to have them.

I’m repeating myself, I know.

The answer he got was that he can’t afford not to extend Samuel Montembeault, because he’s surely the team’s number one now. Although, from what we understand from Gascon, the GM didn’t really have this possibility in mind at the outset.

Martin St-Louis isn’t the only one having trouble giving Monty love. If you listen carefully to the coach’s press briefings, it’s hard for him to be frankly complimentary about the little guy from Bécancour. I’m telling you, it comes much easier to him for Allen.

But there’s more to these words from the Radio-Canada journalist.

Hearing that, I also had a few thoughts about what Kent Hughes got in the way of answers. These are my humble impressions, but I’ll leave it to you to tell me in the comments if you see things the way I do.

Firstly, he knows that Montembeault isn’t a bit of straw and that he can take on the number one role in front of a young team. That losing by big scores doesn’t affect his confidence and that he knows how to bounce back. That he can hold down the fort until other options emerge (if necessary) in Jakub Dobes, Jacob Fowler, Quentin Miller or Joe Vrbetic.

Secondly, he knows that Cayden Primeau is continuing to progress and has shown surprising confidence in his ability when sent into games. He was particularly solid against the Red Wings. He also knows that Eric Raymond can help him progress even further by spending quality time with him. Cayden Primeau has shown him enough to be entrusted with the team’s number-two role.

Thirdly, he knows that Jake Allen is getting older. That he may not be giving enough for his salary. That he’s at risk of injury. When you think about it coldly, it’s not pretty what you know about Jake Allen. In the end, none of it screams future, while the organization has been surfing for two years on the idea of selling its future to fans.

The journalist goes on to make what seems to me to be a very fair assumption:

“In the event of a contract extension, that means it’s the exit for Jake Allen.” – Alexandre Gascon

Since the start of the season (you know the rest of the sentence by now)… But that might not be the case any time soon. Everyone hates having three goalkeepers on a team, and Kent Hughes seems to have chosen which horses he wants to bet on for the future.

It remains to be seen where Jake Allen might end up if he’s traded, and what Hughes will be able to get in return. I wouldn’t be surprised if the GM can’t pull off a miracle this time around. In my opinion, he’ll either have to agree to withhold part of the star’s salary or pick up another bad contract if he wants to receive an attractive consideration.

But that’s a subject we can delve into in greater depth another time.

In bursts

– It’s the topic of the hour again.

– 13 goals allowed in three games? We’ve seen better.

– It got a lot of people talking, anyway.

– He should be signing soon. Will it be in Florida? Toronto? Detroit? Buffalo? Anywhere else?

– Quite a change.

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