Forget about Jake Allen being a one-year rental player as initially anticipated. Instead, the Habs announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed the goaltender to a two-year contract extension that carries a cap hit of $2.875 million. The deal will pay $2 million in 2021-22 and $3.75 million in 2022-23 when the maximum escrow drops down.
Montreal acquired the 30-year-old last month in exchange for a 3rd-round pick (plus swapping a 2020 7th for a 2022 7th) in a move that amounted to a cap dump from St. Louis. At the time, the belief was that Allen – who carries a $4.35M AAV on his current deal (which is unaffected by this new) – would give the Canadiens an above-average backup in what would likely be a condensed 2020-21 season and then be replaced by a younger and cheaper option.
Instead, GM Marc Bergevin is sticking to this new philosophy of having a strong second option behind Carey Price. He’s coming off of a strong year with the Blues where he posted a 2.15 GAA and .927 SV% in 24 regular season games and was even better in limited playoff action. There’s no denying that Allen will certainly be an upgrade on the collection of players that have been trotted out in that role in recent years but with Price being the highest-paid goalie in NHL history already, supplementing him on a multi-year deal with Allen is intriguing.
Nevertheless, backup goalie has been an area of weakness for quite a while now and with this signing, it projects to be an area of strength for at least the next three seasons.
At that time, Cayden Primeau will have four years of professional experience under his belt and will be waiver-eligible at that time. Speculatively, he’d move up to take Allen’s place for the 2023-24 campaign. It also seemingly takes the chances of Vasil Demchenko having a future with the organization beyond the upcoming season out of the question already before he’s even suited up once for them.
There is, however, one possible way for things to change. The Canadiens will now leave Allen unprotected to Seattle in the expansion draft (meaning that they’re no longer required to qualify Michael McNiven next offseason) and if he’s selected, then their short-term plans could change. But for now at least, Price has a more-than-capable backup in place for the next three seasons.