It appears the Montreal Canadiens
have handed rookie goalie Carey Price
the starting job for the rest of the season.
Bob Gainey, Montreal’s executive vice president/general manager, made that official Tuesday afternoon when he dealt incumbent starter Cristobal Huet
to Washington in exchange for the Capitals’ second-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, which was originally Anaheim’s property.
The move will allow Huet (21-12-6, 2.55 goals-against average), an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, to step right in and take over for the struggling Olaf Kolzig
(21-19-6, 3.03 GAA).
Huet, a seventh-round choice of the Los Angeles Kings
in 2001, boasts a .916 save percentage in 39 games this season. Huet, 32, is in his fifth NHL season after making his NHL debut for the Kings in 2002-03, posting a 4-4-1 record in 12 games. Montreal acquired him on June 26, 2004, with Radek Bonk
in exchange for Mathieu Garon
and a third-round draft choice.
Price, who signed a three-year contract prior to the 2007-08 season, was a first-round pick, No. 5 overall, of the Canadiens in 2005. In 26 games this season, Price (12-9-3) sports a 2.83 GAA and .910 save percentage.
The move comes at a time when the Canadiens are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race as the fifth seed with 77 points, two behind the Pittsburgh Penguins
Gainey obviously feels Price can withstand the rigors of postseason competition in his first season.
Last season, Price led the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League to the Calder Cup with an impressive 2.06 GAA and .944 save percentage, becoming the youngest player, at 19, to win the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as Calder Cup playoff MVP. He spent his junior hockey career playing for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey, going 30-13-1 with a 2.45 GAA and .917 save percentage in 46 games in 2006-07.
Price's father, Jerry Price, was also a goaltender -- drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers
in the eighth round, No. 126, in the 1978 Amateur Draft. He never played in the NHL, but did play four seasons of pro hockey in various leagues and is currently the goaltending coach at Tri-City.
Washington is currently No. 11 in the Eastern Conference, five points behind both eighth-seeded Philadelphia and Southeast Division-leading Carolina. The club already has Kolzig, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and Brent Johnson
(7-8-2, 2.67 GAA) in the fold. Washington’s 3.05 goals-against average per game, is No. 25 in the League and, perhaps, helped GM George McPhee
to pull the trigger on the trade.
Huet has a pair of shutouts this season with the most recent coming, ironically, against the Capitals, 4-0, on Jan. 29 with 35 saves.
Huet has played in 170 career games in the NHL (72-59-24) and sports a 2.49 GAA and a. 917 save percentage. He posted a 58-39-13 record in 117 career games with the Canadiens, with a 2.53 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.