Canadiens Preparing For Life After Carey Price


 The Canadiens have one of the best goalies in the world but the unusual amount of depth behind him suggests they could be planning for the future.

It’s hard to fathom that there was a time when a portion of the Canadiens fan base tried running Carey Price out of town in favor of Jaroslav Halak. Luckily, the Canadiens management at the time didn’t listen and kept the future Hart and Vezina winner.

It’s almost surprising that Price is a 9 year NHL veteran despite being just 28 years old. Price has 2 years remaining on his current contract, which will expire when he is just short of his 31st birthday. At that point, he will be an unrestricted free agent.

Price is already the 5th highest paid goalie in the league and his next contract could rival Henrik Lundqvist’s 7 year, $59.5 million dollar deal signed when he was 32.

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But will the Canadiens be the team that gives him that huge payday? In all likelihood, Price will remain with the Canadiens for the rest of his career. But at the same time, the Canadiens seem to be planning for at least the possibility of Price’s departure.

There is absolutely no denying that the Canadiens live and die through Price. We saw that first hand this season. But in the last 7 seasons, Price has suffered 5 fairly significant injuries with 2 of them coming in the playoffs. Even more concerning is that 4 of those injuries were to his legs.

  • December 2009, missed 4 weeks after suffering an ankle sprain
  • April 2012, he missed the final 4 games of the season due to a concussion
  • April 2013, he missed the final two 1st round playoff games due to a groin strain
  • May 2014, was run into by Chris Kreider and missed most of the Eastern Conference finals due to a knee injury
  • November 2015, missed 9 games due to a ligament strain in his knee. He came back but re-injured the same knee and missed the rest of the season

Since 2013, Marc Bergevin has been quietly adding goaltending depth to the Canadiens organization. Gone are the days that Robert Mayer and Cedrick Desjardins represented the Canadiens 3rd and 4th goalies.

It all began in May 2013 when the Canadiens signed Mike Condon. They followed that up by drafting Zachary Fucale in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft. Bergevin then drafted Hayden Hawkey late in the 2014 draft and signed OHL free agent Michael McNiven in September 2015. Bergevin wasn’t finsihed yet and signed highly regarded college free agent Charlie Lindgren this past March.

Now, none of these goalies really project to ever be MVP-caliber players like Price. And really, only Lindgren and Fucale project as future NHL starters. I’m not suggesting that these players will or are even capable of replacing Price. But this amount of depth is something we are not used to seeing with the Canadiens. And who knows? Maybe the Canadiens find another goalie from relative obscurity like they’ve done in the past.

I am in no way saying the Canadiens should move on from Price in 2018. However, I do believe that Bergevin and the Canadiens are taking the necessary steps in the event the unthinkable does happen.

Next: Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk's Next Contract

Fans may not want to think about the possibility of life after Price but it exists. The facts are there with his growing list of injuries and he’s about to be on the wrong side of 30. I firmly believe Price still has another 6-8 years of great hockey in him provided he can stay healthy. A lot of the uncertainty regarding Price’s future truly depends on how he rebounds from his most recent knee injury.

I do not see a scenario where Marc Bergevin willingly moves on from Price. However, Bergevin’s future is far from secure and a new regime could think differently and may be more willing to move on.