It’s not unusual to see the student surpass the master when it comes to goaltending in the NHL. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury went from the starter to Matt Murray’s backup in the playoffs last spring. In Montreal, Carey Price’s job as the number-one on the Habs and even the best in the league is pretty secure at the moment. However, when forecasting down the road, who is the future in goal for Montreal? For now that answer appears to be Charlie Lindgren.
In the System
At age 29, Price is squarely in his prime and has many more dominant years ahead of him as long as he stays injury-free. However, it never hurts to continue to develop young goalies in preparation for the years ahead. Montreal has four young goalies in the system that include Lindgren, Zachary Fucale, Michael McNiven and Hayden Hawkey.
McNiven and Hawkey are in junior and college respectively and aren’t considered to be blue chip prospects. Fucale is a bit of a different story. Drafted 36th overall in 2013, Fucale was fresh off backstopping a dominant Halifax Mooseheads team to a Memorial Cup championship and looked like a top goalie in the making. However, Fucale’s development hasn’t exactly gone as planned.
— Amy (@FlyersRule) November 27, 2016
Fucale vs. Lindgren
In his last two season of junior hockey, Fucale was good but not dominant in the way he was expected to be. His struggles with rebound control and letting in soft goals followed him to the AHL, where he struggled as a rookie. Part of his struggles certainly could be chalked up to his age and the fact that the team in front of him wasn’t good. This year, Fucale finds himself in the ECHL. It is not unusual to see goalies in the ECHL so Fucale very well could rebound and become an NHL starter.
However, it is Lindgren that looks like the best bet to be an NHL starter. Playing behind an AHL St. John’s IceCaps team that again isn’t that great, Lindgren is often the reason they win games, as he faces a lot of shots on a nightly basis. At 6’2″ and 190 pounds, he has a good frame to work with and considering he is only 22, he has plenty of time to keep improving. Lindgren is a very athletic goaltender and while that athleticism can lead to positioning issues, it is a problem that can be fixed.
With Price being who he is, the need for a youngster to push him isn’t necessary. However, young talented goalies are very valuable as trade bait. Players like Cam Talbot and Martin Jones got decent returns and so far they have worked out as starters. There is no need for Lindgren to be pushed and rushed to the NHL, but he looks very promising as a prospect so far and it never hurts having some insurance in the net.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Ryerson University. I am a freelance journalist and a Montreal Canadiens writer for The Hockey Writers. I previously wrote for Simcoe.com and Last Word on Sports as well as interned at TSN.