This season, the Montreal Canadiens do not have a valid number-one goalie, which is fine because they don’t need one during a rebuild. They also don’t have prospects ready to jump into that role anytime soon. Frederik Dichow and Jakub Dobes could surprise people and be on the team by 2025, but that is wishful thinking at this point. By 2025, the Habs should be at least a playoff team if the rebuild goes correctly, but to be a contender, they will need a solid starting goaltender. Here is a look at three goalies that could be Montreal’s starters when they are ready for the big jump to Lord Stanley.
Igor Shesterkin is the current starter and reigning Vezina Trophy winner for the New York Rangers. He had big shoes to fill when taking over for legend Hendrik Lundqvist and he put on those shoes and ran with them. Shesterkin started his NHL career in 2019-20 at 24 years old, going 10-2 with a save percentage (SV%) of .932 in 12 games; he played so well that the Rangers felt comfortable allowing Lundqvist to walk away from the team as a free agent (FA) to sign with the Washington Capitals. Now in his fourth NHL season, Shesterkin has 72 wins in 110 starts with an SV% of .927 and goals-against average (GAA) of 2.35 for his career. He was also third in voting for the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player (MVP) in the NHL and a huge reason why the rebuilding Rangers finished second in the Metropolitan Division and made the playoffs last season.
If the Canadiens could sign Shesterkin, he would definitely give them a top-quality starter that could help guide them to contending status, depending on the makeup of the rest of the team. The big question is always money, and with the success he has already achieved, he will be asking for top dollar as an FA. Will the Canadiens be able to spend top dollar on a goaltender in 2025? The answer is probably, but will they want to, or will they feel they can rebuild with a cheaper, less accomplished goalie? I don’t see them paying $10 million or more on a goalie again anytime soon, and I doubt Shesterkin gets that much, but it will still be higher than $7 million. One thing is sure: You don’t have to worry about goaltending with a guy like him in your nets.
Logan Thompson has come from nowhere to help lead the Vegas Golden Knights to be one of the best teams in the NHL right now. He has an 11-3 record with a .925 SV% and GAA of 2.30, putting him top five in the league in all categories and surprising many who thought the Knights would have goaltending issues before the season started. When Vegas learned that starter Robin Lehner would be out for the season, many thought the team would miss the playoffs due to a lack of experienced goaltending. Thompson is an undrafted, 25-year-old goaltender who signed with the Golden Knights after having a stellar season in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays on a two-year contract in 2020. He was re-signed this season to a three-year, league-minimum contract after posting a 10-5-3 record with a 2.68 GAA and .914 SV% in 19 games last season.
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Thompson is only a massive surprise to anyone not following the Golden Knights. He had excellent numbers in the American Hockey League (AHL), with the Henderson Silver Knights posting a career 29-16-7 record with a .929 SV% and 2.44 GAA. Add that to his excellent rookie campaign backing up Lehner, and it’s no surprise that he is one of the top goalies in the league. When he becomes an FA in 2025, he will only be 28 years old and still in his prime, which would be perfect for a Canadiens team on the cusp of taking that next step to contend for the Cup. It could be too early to determine whether or not Thompson keeps trending upward, but all indications point to him being a top NHL starter.
Linus Ullmark has had an excellent start to his season with the Boston Bruins; after splitting duties last season with rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman, he has pulled away and taken the number one spot this season. Ullmark started his career with the Buffalo Sabres, where he was mediocre on a lousy team, and many questioned if he would be a full-time starter in the NHL. After playing 117 games with the Sabres, he signed with the Bruins as an FA and turned his game around, winning 39 of his 56 games with Boston, including being 13-1 so far this season.
Ullmark will turn 32 in 2025 but will still be young enough to help the Canadiens make a playoff push for a few more years. His numbers in Buffalo suggest he can be a good goaltender on a poor team with an SV% of .912 and a GAA of 2.78 in front of some terrible Sabres teams. If the Canadiens are on the verge of making a playoff run, they should be solid enough to get some excellent numbers out of Ullmark while wearing the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge of the Habs. His only setback is his salary: he makes $5 million with the Bruins, and if his play keeps up, he will want a raise. It will all depend on where Montreal is financially in 2025 and how much they want to put into their goaltending at that time that will determine if Ullmark will be a consideration.
As of right now, these are the three best goaltenders going into free agency in 2025; of course, this is three seasons away, and anything can happen between then and now. The Canadiens have Dichow and Dobes in their system, who could develop nicely and take over, or Cayden Primeau could turn things around and be the goalie everyone hoped he was, which is looking more unlikely as the season goes on. The Canadiens could also need more time to make a push and not be ready by 2025, but watching the team play this season, it’s more than likely this rebuild will be quicker than anticipated.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com. Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on CTV news and ESPN Radio; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.