Habs Mailbag: Predicting future of Canadiens' goaltending situation

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In three to four years, who will be the Canadiens’ No. 1 and No. 2 goalies?

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Pierre-Luc L.

Since Samuel Montembeault has a new three-year contract that kicks in next season, I’ll say he will still be the No. 1 goalie three years from now. By that time, I figure Jacob Fowler will be the No. 2 goalie if he hasn’t already played well enough to be the No. 1. Fowler has had an incredible season as a freshman with Boston College, posting a 29-5-1 record with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage after being selected by the Canadiens in the third round (69th overall) of last year’s NHL Draft. Cayden Primeau has one season left on his contract to prove to Canadiens management that he can have a long-term future with the team. Primeau can become a restricted free agent after next season, so it will be interesting to see if the Canadiens look to re-sign him or trade him. Fowler’s performance next season — whether he returns to Boston College or joins the AHL’s Laval Rocket — will probably play a role in that decision. Four years from now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fowler is the new No. 1 goalie.

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Any chance David Savard gets a contract extension?

Peter August

I would say no chance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canadiens trade Savard during the off-season and I’d be shocked if they don’t trade him before the NHL deadline next season. Savard will turn 34 on Oct. 22 and will be heading into the final season of his contract with a salary-cap hit of US$3.5 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens need to open spots on the blue line for young defencemen like David Reinbacher, Lane Hutson and Logan Mailloux and would also like to get something in return for Savard rather than lose him for nothing as a free agent. Having said that, the positive impact Savard has already had on the Canadiens’ young defencemen — including Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj — will be felt for a long time after he’s gone.

If the Canadiens had Kirby Dach in the lineup, where do you think Alex Newhook fits best? Or, rather, who is the second-line centre and where does the other play?

Jason Gillespie

With Dach back in the lineup, I think Newhook would fit best as one of his wingers on the second line, possibly with Joshua Roy on the other side. Of course, that could change depending on what moves GM Kent Hughes makes during the offseason — and especially at the NHL Draft. I would expect Hughes will be looking to make another trade at the draft, including one of his two first-round picks, similar to what he did to acquire Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks two years ago and Newhook from the Colorado Avalanche last season.

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Why would a team get the useless contracts of injured players onto their books to meet the salary-cap floor in the NHL? Why not get players who can actually play for the team and spend their money that way?

Andrew Nadeau

Because some owners in smaller markets are looking to save money instead of actually spending it.

The NHL salary-cap limit this season is US$83.5 million and the floor is US$61.7 million, meaning a team must have at least that much on its salary cap.

So, take a contract like the one for former Canadiens captain Shea Weber, which was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights and then to the Arizona Coyotes, even though his career has been over since the end of the 2021 Stanley Cup final because of injuries. Weber still has two more seasons left on his 14-year, US$110-million contract, which has an annual salary-cap hit of US$7.857 million. Weber’s contract was front-loaded and he actually earned US$14 million in each of the first four seasons and US$12 million the next two. But he will only earn US$1 million in each of the next two seasons. So Weber’s entire US$7.857 million can count toward the cap, while the Coyotes are only paying him US$1 million. That’s a savings of US$6.857 million for the team owner while still hitting the mandated salary-cap floor.

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