An Allen and Primeau Tandem For 2022-23?

That’s just wrong. It doesn’t sound right at all. Carey Price has been the face of this franchise since he was drafted by the Canadiens fifth overall back in 2005, or at least since when he made his NHL debuts on October 10, 2007, against the Pittsburgh Penguins and recorded 26 saves in a 3–2 win. Thinking of the remote possibility of Montreal not having #31 in net is one thing. He’s missed more than his fair share of time due to injuries. But to see his rights belonging to another NHL team, knowing he would never be the Habs’ goaltender would be heartbreaking.

Yet, since the firing of Marc Bergevin as the Canadiens VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager, the possibility of seeing that happen has never so prominent. While most of this team’s lack of success this season can easily be justified by the countless and ridiculous amount of injuries to key players, the Canadiens are at an intersection. It’s now Jeff Gorton’s team and he doesn’t owe any of those veterans any favours. He wants to build his own team and that means changes are coming. What changes is what remains to be determined.

Allen rumours

I don’t know that they’re rumours more than fans and media going crazy by imagining everyone traded, but Jake Allen’s name has surfaced in a few occasions as a potential candidate to be traded. Those people forget one thing: the Canadiens went out and got him because for years now, the team didn’t have a quality backup for Price. For that reason, they couldn’t give their starter the necessary rest. And seeing how Price performed in last year’s playoffs, having been able to rely on Allen has served that purpose.

Jake Allen

With Price’s uncertain future, whether it’d be due to injuries or the risk of a potential trade, the Canadiens, with consultation with Carey himself, protected Allen at the last Expansion Draft. That should tell you all you need to know about the value of Allen to this organisation, although it was under previous management.

Jake Allen is signed for one more year (after this one) at a cap hit of $2.875 million. Considering that his previous contract was at $4.35 million, how many games he’s played the last two years for the Canadiens and how well he has performed, it’s hard to fantom that they would even consider trading him, even if they keep Price.

Could Price be traded?

Many discussions surround the tradability of Price, due to his age (34), his injuries and his contract, which carries four more years after this season with a cap hit of $10.5 million. He is however getting paid less than that in actual dollars.

It is unlikely that teams would want to take on the entire contract, so the Canadiens, if they wished to trade him, would likely have to eat up part of his cap hit. Unless his injury is more serious than originally thought, Price still has at least 3 more good seasons in him, based on what he has shown in the last playoffs. And that’s not counting his leadership, well documented in Montreal. He would be worth his salary for any taker.

Price does, however, have a full No Movement Clause attached to his contract, which means that he won’t be traded if he doesn’t want to, and ultimately will decide which team(s) he would accept to be moved to, if indeed he chooses so. He controls his own destiny.

Potential suitors

When trying to consider where, logically, Price would accept to go to, you have to take two things into considerations. He will likely move for one of two reasons:

  1. To win a Stanley Cup, and/or;
  2. To get closer to family.

Being the competitor that he is, one would think that winning a Cup is his goal. But I can see him preferring a mix of both above-mentioned reasons. Price originates from Anahim Lake, BC, a northwestern town in British Columbia. He and his wife Angela reside in Kelowna, in the BC interior, during the off-season, along with good friends Josh Gorges and Shea Weber. Angela’s family is in the Seattle region, in the Pacific Northwest.

For teams aspiring to the Stanley Cup, I can see two teams being ahead in the runnings.

Edmonton Oilers

Evan Bouchard

The Oilers are stacked on offense and while they carry a reputation of not having a good defensive core, that has been fixed since. Right now, they’re suffering through injuries on defense as they are without Kris Russell, Duncan Keith and Oscar Klefbom. Veteran goaltender Mike Smith has been sidelined since October 18th and Mikko Koskinen has a 3.05 GAA and a .907 Sv%. He is terribly inconsistent and that’s the position of weakness for the Oilers, in net.

Having lost five in a row, they trail the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks for top spot in the Pacific Division. Many observers feel like with better goaltending, they could win the Stanley Cup. Koskinen’s $4.5 million cap hit could come off the books in July as he is scheduled to become a UFA.

Potential Target: Evan Bouchard (RD)

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are in a dog fight to make the playoffs. Only six points separate St. Louis, Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg and Dallas in the Central Division, with Minnesota holding top spot with a five points lead. So far in December, they have allowed 26 goals in six games, which includes a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. They surrendered eight goals to the Leafs and six to the Senators, both on home ice, and five to Philly! Darcy Kuemper is their best goalie with a 2.87 GAA and a .904 Sv% this season. Potent offense, depth and quality on defense, goaltending is their Achilles. Kuemper and Pavel Francouz are both in the final year of their contract and are scheduled to become UFAs this summer.

Potential Target: Justin Barron (RD)

Then you have the teams where he might accept to move to due to personal reasons, like proximity to friends and family. There are two teams that jump to mind when thinking about the sentimental or family aspect of playing hockey.

Seattle Kraken

Price was made available for the expansion draft and Ron Francis thought long and hard about claiming him. Ultimately, he backed out, preferring to save some cap space for his team but he wanted the Canadiens’ goaltender. Carey might lift his clause to be close to Angela’s family, and closer to his own family as well. If you’ve ever been to Seattle, you will know that it’s a beautiful place to be.

Vancouver Canucks

That’s the obvious option, isn’t it? Vancouver is a short flight away from Kelowna and Williams Lake (near Anahim Lake), Carey’s home province. But they already have Thatcher Demko, a 25 year-old promising goaltender, signed until 2025-26 with a $5 million cap hit. Ironically, guess who is the backup in Vancouver this season? None other than… Jaroslav Halak!

So there you have it folks. Jeff Gorton told Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports last week that he spoke to Price and they will talk more. In fact, Gorton wants to talk to all his veteran players to find out what they want to do if the Canadiens chose to rebuild (or reset again). His decisions will then be based on the answers provided by those players and his own evaluation.

What about next season?

But if you trade Price, what do you do for next season and beyond? That’s a very legitimate question and one that the team must weight gingerly. Cayden Primeau is a very good prospect and he’s starting to come into his own, but he’s not ready to be a starter. Having said that, if you had a tandem of him and Allen splitting the season as a 1A and 1B goaltender, it could very well work. Allen has always been more effective if he’s not playing too much, but he’s capable of 40+ games. Having Primeau get his feet wet with 35-40 games might be ideal.

Then again, if Price was to be traded, there is always the possibility of getting a goaltender back in the trade. But let’s face it: the odds of seeing Carey Price traded, due to his contract mostly, are very slim. And the odds of seeing Allen traded are, in my humble opinion, just as unlikely. However, if the five decades of hockey in my have taught me anything, it’s that nothing is impossible. I’ve seen Wayne Gretzky get traded.

More reading…

If Gorton Played Santa, A Top-5 List of Trades

The Bell Centre, A Welcoming Place

Tourigny Sets Record Straight on Prospects Development