On Thursday, the Habs added to their goaltending prospect depth, signing Michael McNiven to a three year, entry level contract. As per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.
McNiven spent last year as the backup goalie with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He played in 24 games, earning a 15-8-0 record with a 2.79 GAA and a .914 SV% to go along with two shutouts. His goals against was the best among qualifying OHL goaltenders and he was the recipient of the leagues’ FW Dinty Moore Trophy as a result. He was also named to the OHL’s All-Rookie team.
McNiven went undrafted this past June which came as somewhat of a surprise as several draft publications had him ranked worthy of a mid to late round selection. He signed an amateur tryout deal with the Canadiens to attend their development camp in July. McNiven had offers to go elsewhere after Montreal’s camp but after being told he had earned an invite to their September rookie tournament, he decided to decline those invitations.
He played in one game in the London prospect tournament for the Habs, making 47 saves in a 6-4 win against the host team in Toronto. He served as backup to Zach Fucale in the other two games.
McNiven currently stands 6’1 and 212 pounds but his weight has been an issue. After the development camp, the Habs advised him to get in better shape and he dropped nine pounds as a result to get to his current 212. He told a local Owen Sound newspaper a few weeks ago that he’s aiming to lose another ten pounds.
As an 18 year old and the now youngest prospect in the organization, McNiven’s options are the NHL or OHL and we all know the latter will be where he winds up in the coming days. Because he’s junior aged and not expected to play ten or more NHL games, his contract won’t count against the limit of 50.