has very openly acknowledged the gravity of his opportunity on Long Island.
Since joining the Islanders in early February by way of a trade with Phoenix, goaltender
Prior to the transaction, Montoya had only played in five NHL games during his six-year professional career, and the former US development team member was eager to show why he’d been taken sixth overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Montoya needed just 45 days and 17 appearances in Blue and Orange to prove to Islanders management that he belonged, inking a one-year contract extension on March 29.
|Al Montoya #35 of the New York Islanders celebrates after winning against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on March 22, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images) |
“It was definitely my main goal when I got this opportunity with the Islanders to prove myself,” Montoya said, hours after inking his first ever one-way NHL deal. “You can kick around in the minors for years and all the sudden you get an opportunity, and you have to put it on yourself to go out there and show why they brought you in. This is a step in the right direction for me and I’m very grateful to the New York Islanders for giving me this chance.”
To say he took the opportunity and “ran with it” is an understatement. With just 15 starts under his belt, the Chicago native is already tied for the team lead with eight wins. Montoya’s 2.35 goals against average also leads the Islanders, while his .923 save percentage ranks 10th in the NHL among goalies who have played in at least 15 games.
“For me, this was an easy decision,” Montoya continued. “It was the team that gave me a chance, which wanted me to come back. That said a lot to me. This is where I want to be.”
Montoya has seen the Islanders go 10-6-5 since joining the squad, giving him good reason to be optimistic about his future on Long Island.
“The team is going in the right direction and I just want to be a part of it and continue to take advantage of the opportunity I’m getting,” Montoya said. Our expectations with the way we’re finishing the season are to keep this going for next year.
While “The Big Cubano” is flattered at the thought of being listed in the same vein as the Islanders’ other recent AHL finds, such as Michael Grabner
, PA Parenteau
and Matt Moulson
, he knows that his sample size is limited, leaving him still with a lot to prove.
“I’m going to just keep playing, keep giving the team a chance to win and keep contributing,” said Montoya. “I’m a guy that works hard, wants to win and wants to add to the tradition here as a good player and teammate for the New York Islanders.”