The Montreal Canadiens have acquired goaltender Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a third and seventh-round pick in 2020. In addition to receiving Allen, the Canadiens are also receiving a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft from the Blues. The third-round pick that the Canadiens are sending to the Blues was acquired in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade.
This deal helps solidify the Canadiens goaltending depth behind Carey Price for the 2020-21 season. While Price has proven to be capable of playing for long stretches of time without too much of a drop off as a result, injuries have definitely been a concern for the veteran netminder over the course of his career.
Allen has been a borderline starting goalie in the NHL over the course of his career. When he was the official starter for the Blues, he had some up-and-down seasons before eventually losing his starting role to Jordan Binnington last season in a move that would ultimately lead to the Blues winning a Stanley Cup.
Still, as a backup goalie, Allen has been able to provide reliable games for the Blues and would actually have the best season of his career during the 2019-20 season with a 12-6-3 record to go along with his .927 save percentage, 2.15 goals-against average and 11.23 goals-saved above average.
When called upon in the playoffs, Allen wouldn’t miss a beat either. He’d go 2-1-1 in the Bubble with excellent peripherals, including a .935 save percentage and 1.89 goals-against average.
For the Blues, getting out of Allen’s $4.35 million cap hit for the 2020-21 season makes sense. If he was only going to be a backup goalie for them, moving on from that money and using it to solidify the roster was a no-brainer. This is especially true with the team’s captain Alex Pietrangelo’s contract set to expire this offseason.
The Blues unfortunately failed to capitalize on their pre-pause momentum and would ultimately fail to advance past the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just one year after winning the Championship. Though the Blues won’t need to do a major overhaul, clearing up this cap space could prove to be very important for them in the short-term.
Taking on this cap hit for the Canadiens may seem strange, but the team needed the security behind Price and getting Allen, a player who spent parts of two seasons in Montreal with the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL, was the smart move to make.
Canadiens Needed Goaltending Depth
With Keith Kinkaid struggling during his six games with the Canadiens and 13 games in a Laval Rocket uniform at the AHL level, the expectation was that the team would look to bring in someone with more experience to backup Price and give him some well-deserved rest when needed.
Charlie Lindgren has the potential to be an NHL goaltender, but he’s also posted a sub-.900 save percentage at both the NHL and AHL level in each of the last two seasons while teetering around that point during the 2017-18 season as well, dipping below .900 in the AHL and posting a .908 save percentage in the NHL that year.
For the Canadiens, the 2020 NHL Bubble showed that this is a team that has a chance to compete for playoff position despite what they showed during the 2019-20 regular season. With a essentially a full offseason under their belt, the Canadiens came out as a team that everyone had to take notice of which was a welcome surprise to fans of the team.
Rather than going with the status-quo, general manager Marc Bergevin seems to already be making it clear that the Canadiens are looking to build upon their play in the NHL Postseason Bubble rather than considering it to be an anomaly altogether.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.