Montreal Canadiens: January Molson Cup Winner Samuel Montembeault Has Been A Revelation

New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens' best player for January was Samuel Montembeault. For his work, he was honoured with the Molson Cup. 

And at this point in the season, Montembeault has been one of the best Canadiens period. The Habs give up a ton of chances, which never favours any team in the wins column. But No. 35’s consistency hasn’t taken a hit. 

Montreal’s number one man between the pipes posted a 4-2-0 record, with a .909 save percentage. Montembeault has continued to be all business among the injuries and lack of offence. He has given the Habs all the confidence to address their three-goaltender issue. 

It is only a small sample size, but you can’t argue Montembeault’s value to the team. His fresh new contract to begin the 2023-24 campaign is looking like nifty work by Kent Hughes. A three-year extension worth $3.15 million per season is aging nicely in the short term. 

Montembeault’s deal ensures that the Habs are secure between the pipes. But it also gives the expected heir to the throne, Jacob Fowler, some time to develop. And in the short term, he gives the club wiggle room to try and add a pick or B-level prospect for Jake Allen’s services. 

All in all, Montembeault has exceeded any expectations that I had for him when he joined the Canadiens. To say I expected him to be the Canadiens starter and steal games would be inaccurate. But that is precisely what the 27-year-old has done. 

If not for having Montembeault behind them, the Canadiens might have been blown out by the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon. The shots ended 38-21 in favour of the Stars. And many of his saves were timely - they can’t all be ten-bell saves - which kept the Habs within striking distance. 

Time and time again Monty has been the Habs' best player, so the Molson Cup honour should come as no surprise. And it's fair to say that he will likely hear his name called again before the season comes to its end. For the rebuilding Habs, Monty serves as a huge topic of conversation - does his success impact the Canadiens' hopes for high draft picks - yes it does.

But, equally important, is maintaining and building on the culture that the Canadiens have established. It's not easy to have a losing season and it wears on the players, so the longer they stay competitive the better. Winning is more important to the players than securing a top-10 pick.