Who's No. 1?
The 32-year-old Cristobal Huet starts the season as the No. 1 goalie in Montreal, especially with the free-agent departure of former challenger David Aebischer during the summer.
Huet, who went 19-16-3 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .916 save percentage, missed a good portion of the second half of the last season with hamstring problems. The French international was well on his way to a season to remember, including being named to play in the NHL All-Star Game, before the leg woes derailed him.
Now, if he can stay healthy, Montreal fans believe Huet can continue his growth into the No. 1 job he began campaigning for upon his arrival in the Canadian city before the start of the 2005-06 season.
Here is where things get interesting. Ever since Carey Price was drafted fifth overall in 2005, he has been tagged with “goalie of the future” status. Now, it appears that future is finally dawning.
The 20-year-old showed he was ready for the pro game last spring, joining the Hamilton Bulldogs at the end of the American Hockey League season and leading that team to postseason glory. Price went 15-6 with two shutouts, a 2.05 GAA and 9.36 save percentage in 22 outings as the Bulldogs won the Calder Cup.
Price played his junior hockey with Tri-City of the Western Hockey League and was wildly successful there, as well. He has also won gold with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. So, Price has far more big-game experience than his age might suggest.
In the Wings
Jaroslav Halak – Price will have to take the backup job away From Halak, who laid claim to it last year with a stunning job while filling in as the improbable No. 1 for Montreal down the stretch of the 2006-07 season. In 16 late-season games with the Canadiens, Halak went 10-6 with a 2.89 GAA and .906 save percentage, suggesting he might be deserving of a longer look this season at the NHL level.
Yann Danis – The 26-year-old goalie remains an intriguing piece of depth in the Montreal organization. Last season, he shared AHL goaltending duties with Halak before Halak was promoted to the big club. Then, he finished the regular season strong, before Price stole the job in the playoffs. Danis remains a solid young goalie, though, as evidenced by the 23-14-5 mark with a 2.81 GAA and .908 save percentage he posted with the Bulldogs.