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Islanders sign Montoya to one-year extension

by Brian Compton
The New York Islanders on Tuesday rewarded Al Montoya for his strong play with a one-year contract extension.

Montoya, 26, is 8-4-4 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 17 games since coming over from the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 9, in exchange for a 2011 sixth-round pick. He is one of seven goaltenders who have suited up for the Islanders this season.

"We'd been talking about (a new deal) for the last little while," Montoya told on Tuesday afternoon. "I'm just excited we got it done and that I'm going to be staying with this organization. This is great."

Prior to this season, Montoya -- who was taken with the sixth pick of the 2004 Entry Draft by the rival New York Rangers -- had played in just five NHL games, all with the Coyotes at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Montoya started this season with the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, where he went 11-8-0 with a 3.19 GAA and .891 save percentage. In somewhat of a remarkable story, Montoya has gone from splitting time in the AHL to becoming the Isles' No. 1 goalie down the stretch to landing a one-way NHL contract for 2011-12.

"I guess that's how it works sometimes," Montoya said. "I was coming back from an injury and had to take advantage of the playing time I was given. Every day, you're fighting for a job. I'm very grateful for this opportunity."

How many starts Montoya receives next season will ultimately depend on the health of Rick DiPietro, who has 10 years remaining on the 15-year deal he signed in September of 2006. Montoya told he's grateful for the friendship he and DiPietro have been building since Montoya was traded to the club in February.

"It's been great," Montoya said of his relationship with DiPietro. "He's been great with me. For me, it's just about being ready when I'm called upon. There's so many great young players here and we have great chemistry."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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