The Habs have started many elite goaltenders. Patrick Roy, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Georges Vezina to name a few. There are actually so many in the Montreal Canadiens’ long history. Right now, the Habs have 5 goalies signed in the team’s system, an unsigned prospect, and a few others that are on AHL or ECHL contracts with the Canadiens’ affiliates.
This article will take a look at the five that have contracts with the Montreal Canadiens, plus an unsigned prospect working for an entry level contract. Let’s see how Montreal’s “goalie factory” is competing in 2016-17.
Carey Price Position: Goaltender Age: 29 Birthplace: Anahim Lake, BC, CAN Height: 6'3" Weight: 226 Drafted: 1st Round (5th Overall) - 2005 NHL Draft / Montreal Canadiens Cap Hit (via CapFriendly): $6,500,000 through 2017-18 Carey Price refuses to lose. The best goaltender in the world is on our favourite team. Is there really much else to say? I know that sounds cliche, but words don't even come to mind because the numbers speak for itself. Along with a 9-0-0 start to the season with only 14 goals against, Price also went 5-0-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .957 Save Percentage in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Before falling to injury a year ago, Price was on a 3 game winning streak and held a 10-2-0 record on the season. The last game of hockey - NHL or international that Price has lost came against the Edmonton Oilers, in Alberta, on October 29th 2015.
Al Montoya Position: Goaltender Age: 31 Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA Height: 6'2" Weight: 209 Drafted: 1st Round (6th Overall) - 2004 NHL Draft / New York Rangers Cap Hit (via CapFriendly): $950,000 through 2016-17 31-year old Al Montoya was signed during the offseason to a one-year deal worth $950,000 to compete with, and ultimately win the back-up job over Mike Condon. Montoya's statistics are the toughest to judge so far this season in the entire organization when taken at face value. Let's just get it out of the way and move on... Montoya was left in on the first game of a back-to-back night in a confidence shattering 60 minutes in a 10-0 loss in Columbus. Now that that's out of the way. Montoya was absolutely on fire during Price's absence as he was ill to start the season. Prior to the Columbus game, Montoya had a stat-line of 3-0-1, a 1.50 GAA and .954 Save Percentage. Obviously unsustainable as a back-up, but still impressive nonetheless. Montoya gets his next start on Sunday in his hometown of Chicago against the Blackhawks. This will be a perfect opportunity to try and bounce back in front of friends and family.
Charlie Lindgren Position: Goaltender Age: 22 Birthplace: Lakeville, MN, USA Height: 6'1" Weight: 182 Drafted: Undrafted Cap Hit (via CapFriendly): $925,000 through 2016-17 Charlie Lindgren is one of the newest goaltenders in the Habs organization, and he already has the AHL starting job. The Lakeville, Minnesota young man is playing his first season with a team north of the border and he's posting incredible numbers at that. After playing high school hockey with Lakeville North High, he made the jump to the USHL to play with the Sioux Falls Stampede for two seasons in South Dakota. Still undrafted, he decides to go to college to play hockey and study at St. Cloud State University back home in Minnesota. In all three years, Lindgren only improved and Montreal scouts took a look at him. Freshman year (2.42 / .905), sophomore year (2.26 / .919), junior year (2.13 / .925)... his progress was undeniable. After being signed late in the 2015-16 season, he got his first and only NHL start on April 1st, 2016 in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. Lindgren stopped 26 shots in a 4-2 win for the Habs. Most expected Fucale to secure the AHL starting job, but Lindgren had something to say about that. 6-2-0, a 2.25 GAA and .933 save percentage to start your AHL rookie season is nothing to sniff at. Yet to allow more than 3 goals in a game, Lindgren stopped 50 of 51 shots in his AHL debut... on the road... against the Providence Bruins. It's still early in the season, but it is HIGHLY suggested to keep your eye on Lindgren this season. The IceCaps will likely continue to use him regularly as they are 6-2-0 with him, and 0-4-1 without him. 35-year old Yann Danis is currently serving at the back-up on an AHL contract. He previously spent several years with the Montreal Canadiens and its (then) AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.
Zach Fucale Position: Goaltender Age: 21 Birthplace: Laval, QC, Canada Height: 6'2" Weight: 187 Drafted: 2nd Round (36th Overall) - 2013 NHL Draft / Montreal Canadiens Cap Hit (via CapFriendly): $714,167 through 2017-18 Since Fucale's re-assignment from the St. John's IceCaps (AHL) to the Brampton Beast (ECHL), Brampton has been holding three goaltenders on the roster. The Habs 2nd round pick in 2013 hasn't necessarily been developing at the pace many have been hoping. But the 21-year old former Memorial Cup champion still has lots of room to improve and lots of time to find the flow of his game. Fucale had a short stint to the American Hockey League season before his demotion. Combined with allowing 7 goals in his first 2 starts and Charlie Lindgren's incredible start, he now has the starting ECHL job. His spot in the ECHL may be the best thing for him right now though. Fucale is a good goaltender, we know this and there is much reason to believe in him. But right now, there is no statistical reason to take the starting spot away from Lindgren. The back-up position would just see Fucale on the bench, so the starting ECHL spot is arguably a good place to regain his confidence and get some more minutes in. Despite being with the Habs' ECHL affiliate, both Andrew D'Agostini and Bryan Pitton are without formal contracts with the Montreal Canadiens. They instead have ECHL contracts with the Brampton Beast. D'Agostini is a 23-year old with Toronto, having previously played with the Peterborough Petes (OHL), Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL), and University of Guelph. Meanwhile, Pitton is a 28-year old hometown boy from Brampton. He has previously played in the OHL, AHL, ECHL, CHL, and professional hockey in the United Kingdom and Poland.
Michael McNiven Position: Goaltender Age: 19 Birthplace: Georgetown, ON, Canada Height: 6'1" Weight: 212 Drafted: Undrafted 2016-17 Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL) Michael McNiven has had a very strong start to the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League season. Despite the team being at an even 10-10-0 record through 20 games, McNiven holds a winning 8-5-0 record. The Habs made an interesting decision to offer the Georgetown, Ontario boy an entry level contract after going undrafted in his draft year. But as of now, he is proving to be worth the honour of being a member of the Habs organization. Among OHL goalies with 8+ games played, McNiven is 4th in the OHL in goals against average, 5th in save percentage, tied for 6th in wins and tied for 3rd in shutouts. In 2014-15, McNiven took up the back-up position but still started in 35% of Owen Sound's games that year. In 2015-16, McNiven was the clear starter having played 53 out of 68 regular season games. This year, McNiven is still the go-to guy for the Attack's crease, but there has been more of a rotation with him playing in 13 games, Riley Daniels in 6, and Emanuel Vella in 5.
Hayden Hawkey Position: Goaltender Age: 21 Birthplace: Parker, CO, USA Height: 6'2" Weight: 188 Drafted: 6th Round (177th Overall) - 2014 NHL Draft / Montreal Canadiens 2016-17 Team: Providence College Friars (NCAA / Hockey East) In his sophomore season at Providence College in Rhode Island, Hayden Hawkey has a lot on his mind. His studies and his battle for college hockey supremacy are near the top of the list. But obviously the 6th round draft pick would like to earn a 3-year entry level contract with the Habs. The Providence Friars currently sit 11th in the NCAA's Hockey East Conference with a 3-3-2 record. While their goal scoring has proven to be an issue (11th in goals for out of 12 teams in the conference), the bottom of the standings team has the 2nd least goals conceeded this season with only 18 in 8 games. In his freshman season, Hawkey only saw action in 5 games - starting in 2 of them. In 180 minutes of play that year, he posted a 2-0-0 record with a 1.67 Goals Against Average and .940 Save Percentage. This year, the sophomore has solidified the starting spot having started in all 8 games to date.