Montreal Canadiens Sign Veteran Goaltender From Swiss National League

Connor Hughes had a good season with Lausanne HC in the Swiss National League.
Connor Hughes in Swiss National League
Connor Hughes in Swiss National League / RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens needed to acquire some goaltending depth while they waited for Jacob Fowler to leave Boston College. Jakub Dobes will handle some of the load in Laval, but they needed a veteran presence to bring the young goaltender along and hopefully steal enough victories to get the Rocket back to the playoffs. The Canadiens opted to dip into the Swiss National League to find the other half of Laval's goaltending tandem.

Connor Hughes was a star for Lausanne HC of the Swiss National League this season, posting a 1.73 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Hughes played junior hockey in North America, starring in various Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues like the GOJHL, SOJHL, OJHL, and CCHL. Hughes had a save percentage above .900 and a goals-against average below 3.00 in most of these leagues, leading him to join the Switzerland pro leagues in 2017-18.

Hughes played with some of the best teams in Switzerland, such as HC Ambri-Piotta, HC Sierre, and HC Fribourg-Gotteron. Hughes even gained Swiss citizenship, appearing in four games for Team Switzerland over the last two seasons. His work with Lausanne this season has led him back to North America for his first NHL contract, a one-year two-way deal.

There are some questions about the growth and development of Cayden Primeau. Is he a goaltender the Canadiens can rely on going forward? Primeau's contract ends after the 2024-25 season, and with Fowler's imminent arrival from Boston College, could Hughes make himself Montembeault's backup past this season while Fowler gets a year or two of development in the AHL?

If Hughes can replicate his 2023-24 success in Switzerland for the Rocket this season, don't be surprised if it's a name we hear going forward. Goalies can sometimes be late bloomers, and there's no better story this year than a former Junior A goaltender who couldn't crack the OHL making his way to the AHL. Are the Habs taking a risk by using one of their contract slots on this chance? Yes, but the payoff could be huge.