Montreal’s goaltending situation should be the most secure spot on the roster but they currently have some questions surrounding the reigning MVP.
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Coming into the 2015-16 NHL season, Montreal’s goaltending depth featured the reigning league MVP, an undraftedÂ college free agent and a former top prospect who overtook a veteran backup’s job the year prior. Fast forward 5 months and Montreal’s MVP has played just 12 games while the undrafted college free agent has seen the bulk of the action.
Despite all that has happened in 2015-16, Montreal’s crease is likely the most stable position in the organization. The only real question will be who wins the back up spot.
Player – Contract Term @ Cap Hit **All Cap figures courtesy of General Fanager
Carey Price – 2 years @ $6.5 million
Ben Scrivens – UFA
Mike Condon – 1 year @ 575K
Zachary Fucale – 2 years @ 714K
The #1 Spot
Without question, Carey Price is the undisputed starting goaltender in Montreal. Barring injury, he will see the bulk of the action next season and will do so as arguably the best goaltender in the world. Their is not a goaltender in the Montreal Canadiens organization who can challenge Carey’s hold on as the number one goalie.
Despite all of that, health is becoming a question mark for the reigning MVP. Most of Price’s injuries have been in his legs, beginning with an ankle sprain that sidelined him for a month in 2008-09. Price also missed the last few games of the 2010-11 season due to a concussion, his only known head injury to date.
In the 2012-13 playoffs, Price suffered a groin injury that cost him the final 2 games of their series against Ottawa. In Montreal’s run in 2013-14, Price suffered a lower-body injury, believed to be a knee injury, in Game 1 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals after being crashed into by Chris Kreider.
Now we have this season, where Price has missed all but 12 games due to a knee injury, widely believed to be an MCL sprain. The original injury occurred in a game against Edmonton on October 29 and sidelined Price for 3 weeks. Price came back, played 2 and a half games before re-aggravating the injury, which had an original 3-6 week timeline to heal. It has now been almost 4 months and Price has yet to return and only very recently returned to practicing.
Three of the past four seasons have seen Price go down with leg injuries and that is not a good indication as Price enters his age 29 season. When healthy, Price is almost other-worldly. But if he is not able to stay on the ice, Montreal falters. Saying that, Price is going nowhere for at least 2 more years, if at all. 100% chance he stays
The College Starter
Despite Montreal’s disappointing season and struggles all around, Mike Condon is not to blame for any of it. Condon began the year by beating out Dustin Tokarski for the back up job. This meant that Condon was expected to play anywhere from 20-25 games and provide solid play when in net.
When Price went down in October, Condon was thrust into the starter role after just 2 NHL starts. Condon performed admirably, winning 5 of 9 starts while Price was out. Even with that early success, Condon was beginning to falter before Carey returned. When Price went down again, Condon again started off admirably before the entire team collapsed in front of him.
What happened in December and January is not all on Condon but at the same time, he should share part of the blame. Untimely goals and some questionable positioning have been Condon’s main weakness that has been exposed this season.
All of that said, Condon is signed cheaply for next year and should see more success in a more limited role as Price’s backup. 80% chance he returns as backup, 20% chance he goes to St. John’s
Ben Scrivens was brought aboard in late December in a trade for Zack Kassian in order to help stop the bleeding. Outside of a 3 game stretch in early February, he has not been much help to changing Montreal’s fortunes. In fact, in the 8 starts outside those aforementioned early February starts, Scrivens has allowed 3 or more goals in each start, losing 7 of the 8 in the process.
As a potential free agent this coming summer, Scrivens has not done much of anything to give the Montreal Canadiens brass any reason to re-sign him as Price’s backup. 0% chance he returns
Zachary Fucale was drafted 36th overall in the 2013 NHL draft and was widely considered a steal by Marc Bergevin. Since being drafted, Fucale’s numbers don’t exactly jump out at you except the fact that he wins no matter where he plays.
Fucale just turned pro this year and he has seen mixed results at best. Much like Condon, that isn’t exactly his fault either though. Montreal has been dipping into the talent pool in St. John’s consistently all season. This has meant that the team in front of Fucale has been constantly shuffled and devoid of it’s top talent. All told, Fucale’s numbers have suffered but he has been earning praise for his play recently.
The jury is still out on whether or not Zachary Fucale will transition successfully to the NHL. He still has 2 years left on his Entry Level Contract and is still just 20 years old while also having a winning pedigree behind him. He should not see any significant time in Montreal next season but with some questions regarding Price’s health and whether Bergevin and Therrien trust Condon, Fucale could sneak in as the backup next year. 20% chance he makes Montreal.