Lighter workload could benefit Canadiens, Price

Eric Bolte / USA Today Sports

One would be inclined to expect the Montreal Canadiens to try to extract full value from goaltender Carey Price, after signing him to an eight-year, $84-million contract extension earlier this offseason.

After all, the deal temporarily made Price tied for the league's highest paid player at an annual average value of $10.5 million. He was surpassed by Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid shortly after.

According to Steven Nechay of Canadiens.com, the Habs have another strategy in mind which could allow them to get the best out of Price in order to maximize his value to the club.

"I don't believe your starter can play 65 to 70 games a year anymore. It's too tough - physically and mentally - and that'll catch up with you in the spring, for sure," said Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite.

Price's .923 save percentage last season was his worst since 2012-13. He started in 62 games.

Here's a breakdown of his starts and save percentage by month.

Month Games Started Save Percentage
October 5 .954
November 11 .944
December 11 .899
January 11 .906
February 10 .912
March 11 .941
April 3 .905

The lessening of Price's workload would lead to an increase of usage of backup goaltender Al Montoya.

"(A) good backup can start 20, 22… even 24 games a year, and give your No. 1 goalie a break while still helping you make the playoffs," said Waite.

Montoya made 18 starts last season, posting a save percentage of .912 and goals-against average of 2.67 while recording two shutouts. He posted a record of 8-6-4, earning credit for the Canadiens' playoff berth as the Atlantic Division's top seed.

"He gives us a chance to win every time he plays, and that's huge when your backup has to start an average of 20 games in today's NHL. We needed him to play at least .500 hockey if we were going to make the playoffs, and that's exactly what he did. He's a very big part of our team," said Waite.

The Canadiens re-signed Montoya to a two-year, $2.125-million contract this offseason.

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Lighter workload could benefit Canadiens, Price
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