The Habs have added to their stable of goaltenders as they announced the signing of Vasili Demchenko to a one-year, entry-level contract on Tuesday. The deal for the 2020-21 season breaks down as follows:
NHL Salary: $700,000
AHL Salary: $70,000
Signing Bonus: $92,500
Performance Bonuses: $132,500
The 26-year-old has been a starter in the KHL for the past five seasons and the results have been a bit up and down in that time. Heading into 2019-20, Demchenko posted save percentages between .922 and .933 with Traktor Chelyabinsk. However, that plummeted to .907 this season which was split between Chelyabinsk and Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
It will be interesting to see what the Habs have planned for him. He certainly appears to be a candidate to battle for the backup spot behind Carey Price next season but after cycling through so many backup options in recent years, it’s quite possible that Montreal looks to bring in a more proven option which would push Demchenko to the AHL level along with Cayden Primeau.
Accordingly, this signing puts Charlie Lindgren and Michael McNiven’s future with the organization in question. Lindgren has another year on his deal but it’s evident that the Habs don’t envision him as a viable number two option so a trade could certainly be an option. As for McNiven, he’s a restricted free agent this offseason and after spending most of the year seeking playing time in the ECHL, it’s possible that he’s not given a qualifying offer. However, he has shown enough in his limited AHL action that he may be worth keeping around for another season although he’d be behind Primeau and Demchenko on the depth chart if they do re-sign him.