The Montreal Canadiens, like every single team around the National Hockey League, will have to make some tough roster decisions in the coming days.
As training camp wraps up, every team needs to cut their roster down to a maximum of 23, and there are always some players who deserve a longer look but don’t get it, or players who were great but do not need waivers so they end up getting sent down.
Asset management comes into play when making these decisions as it would not make sense to lose a good young player on waivers if he is just as good as a young player who makes the roster but does not require waivers to be sent down.
The Canadiens have already made a large reduction of their training camp roster as they sent down 25 players to join the Laval Rocket training camp which opens on Monday. Still, they have about a dozen more cuts to make before they get down to their opening night roster.
One of the toughest decisions will be what to do in goal. Jeff Gorton spoke with Guillaume Lefrancois of La Presse and mentioned the team may elect to carry three goaltenders into the regular season.
Sam Montembeault and Jake Allen were the team’s goaltending tandem for the past two seasons and look to have the inside track on keeping those roles this season. However, the wrench being thrown into the plans this season is Cayden Primeau requires waivers for the first time in his career before being sent to the Laval Rocket.
The team appears to think he would be claimed and do not want to lose him for nothing. So, they may, as Gorton suggested, keep all three goalies on the roster.
This would be a terrible decision. Teams almost never have three goaltenders on their roster and it is because there just aren’t enough nets to go around. With 82 games over a season, you can’t keep all three goalies sharp at the same time. Even in practice, obviously there are only two nets and you can rotate the third guy in for drills and taking shots, but it is just taking practice time away from one of the top two guys.
Primeau has proven to be at his best with the Rocket when he plays a lot. When he is used sparingly, like the few times he has been called up to the Canadiens, he gets a game here or there and does not play well. He needs to be playing regularly to play well and a three goalie system would be awful for the 24 year old’s development.
A better solution would be to trade someone, anyone and get anything in return instead of ruining a young asset like Primeau by having him sit in the press box. With his limited NHL experience, and struggles when he did play at the top level, I’m not convinced Primeau would even be claimed, but I do see why the team would be hesitant to put him out there.
Instead, trading Montembeault at this point would make more sense and running with a tandem of Primeau and Allen. This tandem was obviously what the team had in mind when they signed Allen to a two-year extension a year ago a few weeks after they gave Primeau a three year contract.
Montembeault putting up a 3.42 GAA and .901 SV% last season should not alter those plans. Allen mentoring Primeau for a season gives them the best chance of finding a starter of the future on this current roster as Primeau would be given a full season to develop and learn from a true pro like Allen.
Moving Montembeault for a late round pick would make a lot more sense than letting Primeau rot in the press box for any length of time.
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