Primeau Developing as Planned

He had to wait until the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft, when with the 13th pick of the round, the Montreal Canadiens finally called his name 199th overall. The son of former NHL center Keith Primeau, Cayden, now had a team owning his rights and who would help him develop. It was a great day for the Primeau family and Cayden was ready to prove everyone wrong for passing on him… 198 times at that Draft!

Jump ahead to 2021, the 22 year-old Laval Rocket goaltender has already received plenty of accolades as one of Trevor Timmins’ most successful prospects. He was named to the NCAA Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as the All-Hockey East First Team back in 2018. The following year, he was also named the goaltender of the All-Hockey East First Team as well as the AHCA East First Team All-American. In his final year at Northeastern University, he compiled a record of 25-10-1 with a 2.09 goals against average and a .933 saves percentage. He has represented USA Hockey at the 2019 World Junior Championships as the starting goaltender. Then in 2020, Primeau was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Steady progress

No matter where a player is selected at the Draft, what you want to see is constant progress in his development and that’s what Primeau has done so far. Each year since being drafted, he has progressed and has improved his game, no matter the level he was playing at. Standing at 6’3″ and 203 lbs, he is imposing but it’s his calm personality and sound positioning that give his the necessary edge to play the position well.

This season in Laval, Primeau started, as he did in the past, by sharing the net with fellow Habs’ prospect Michael McNiven. However, he has since clearly taken over the starter position. Many, including yours truly, believe that it is in part because of the comments made by McNiven who nipped the Rocket for leaving him in a game where he claimed suffering from cramping. But there is no denying that Primeau’s performances have vastly outshined McNiven’s since then. In fact, let’s break his performances down:

Oct.15 – Dec.1112.96.8972
Dec.2 – Dec.1252.38.9340

For the first part of the season, in spite of getting two shutouts, his goals against average was close to three goals per game allowed and his saves percentage was below .900. Since then though, he has drastically diminished his goals against and his saves percentage is amongst the best in the AHL.

Further, he was called to start three games for the Canadiens in the NHL this season. He performed extremely well in two of the three games, with a not-so-good game in between. Considering the way the Habs have been playing, he has done quite well all things considered. In his last game on December 16th, he stopped 37 of 39 shots including all three in the shootout to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Now look at the Vancouver Canucks and Thatcher Demko. He’s a pretty good goaltender, isn’t he? Guess how old he is? He’s 26 years old and he’s never played more than 35 games in a season at the NHL level. He has already played 25 this season.

Jacob Markstrom was 28 when he finally played more than 33 games in a season. He’s a pretty good goalie too. Both he and Demko were second round picks and don’t ask the Canucks and the Flames if they would trade their goalie for someone else right now. The league is filled will such examples.

So at 22 years old, Primeau may not quite be NHL ready but rest assured that it’s coming. It’s coming soon and he does have the potential to become a very good number one goalie in the NHL. Let’s just show a little patience with our prospects, shall we?

More reading…

By Going Public, McNiven Cost Himself A Call-Up, Maybe More…

An Allen and Primeau Tandem For 2022-23?

Gorton Assessment: Habs’ Depth Chart