Montreal Canadiens Trade Al Montoya to Edmonton Oilers

The Montreal Canadiens have traded goaltender Al Montoya to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2018, the Habs announced Thursday night. The condition of the pick states that the Canadiens will receive a fourth-round pick from the Oilers if Montoya plays in at least seven regular-season contests in 2017-18 with the Oilers. If he plays in less, the Canadiens will receive a fifth-round draft pick instead.

Montoya has been out of the Canadiens lineup since sustaining a concussion on Nov. 4 against the Winnipeg Jets. He’s played in only four games in 2017-18, recording a 2-1 record with a 3.77 goals against average and a lowly .863 save percentage. Montoya has played in 59 games over the course of his career split between the Canadiens, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes. When he returns to full health he’ll likely assume the backup role in Edmonton – the role he’s made a career on as an NHL journeyman.

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Despite his totals not being the best, Montoya has always been a locker-room favorite throughout his career. Fanbases have always respected him for doing his job as a backup goalie, but it’s hard to imagine that at one time, Montoya was deemed to be one of the best prospects on the planet. Or at least the New York Rangers seemed to think so, drafting Montoya with the sixth-overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Montoya never even played a game with the Rangers, though he did play 51 games over two seasons with the New York Islanders in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Interesting Trade for the Oilers

This deal is a curious one for the Oilers who don’t have much to gain from adding a backup goaltender given their current position in the standings of a very competitive Pacific Division, and a difficult Western Conference. Holding a 17-20-3 record, the Oilers are on the outside looking in at the time of the deal as they’re 10 points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Trading for a backup goaltender in a year where a team likely won’t make the postseason is an interesting decision to make, but it’s far from the only interesting trade talk the Oilers were mentioned in Thursday.

Connor McDavid Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While the Oilers may have been one of the NHL’s best and most exciting teams last season, they have fallen into their old ways this season, regressing to the bottom of the league standings at the mid-way point of the 2017-18 season. While Connor McDavid might be in contention for the best player on the planet (a distinction that Sidney Crosby and Erik Karlsson would like to contest), his talent alone hasn’t been enough to help the Oilers find their way out of the Western Conference-basement and back into a playoff spot.

The Oilers Are Starting 2018 in a Weird Way

2017 was an interesting year for the Oilers as it saw the franchise make the postseason, trade away a franchise staple in Jordan Eberle and sign both captain McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to monstrous contract extensions, among other things. While the postseason run was a fun turn of events, the rest of the year has been wildly forgettable for general manager Peter Chiarelli and his staff. While the Montoya trade is indeed a curious one, it’s still not as bad as some of the other moves that Chiarelli has made with the team.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

2018 might be off to a weird start for the Oilers, but at least McDavid and Drasaitl are still wearing the blue and orange for the foreseeable future – something Oilers’ fans can look forward to as they watch their team try and climb back into postseason contention.

Canadiens Already Have Niemi

For the Canadiens, this trade makes a lot of sense. The team is looking less and less likely to make the postseason by the day and keeping hold of a backup goaltender who still has some term left on his contract doesn’t make much sense when the team already has a backup netminder in Antti Niemi. The Canadiens don’t need Montoya to backstop their team when Carey Price needs a night off anymore, and as such, they got good value in a fourth-round pick which could ultimately also become a fifth-round pick.