Carey Price has had to shoulder a significant workload for most of his tenure with the Canadiens. However, the addition of Jake Allen should change that and it will likely have a big effect on his fantasy value.
After leading the league in minutes played the year before, the Habs opted to try spending on a veteran backup goalie to try to ease up on Price’s workload. That yielded Keith Kinkaid and that experiment didn’t last very long. From there, Charlie Lindgren (a player that doesn’t have the trust of the coaching staff to play much) was put into the backup role and the end result was Price once again leading the league in minutes played, even with the team largely out of contention in the second half of the season.
The end result wasn’t too pretty. He lost nine points off of his save percentage from 2018-19 (a number that was at his career average) while adding 30 points to his GAA which had him outside the top 30 in the NHL in that category. Sure, there were still some vintage Price moments and he stole the Habs some games along the way but it was hardly the performance that was expected from the highest-paid goalie in NHL history, a mark he’s almost certain to hold for quite a while yet.
Then came the bubble which was months after things were shut down and Price had ample time to rest. The end result was a dominant showing from him in the playoffs with the lowest GAA and the highest SV% of any of his nine postseason appearances. It was vintage Price as he showed that some rest could go a long way towards him getting back to being an elite netminder and the Habs took out Pittsburgh and put up a good fight against Philadelphia as a result.
Season Stats: 58 GP, 27-25-6 record, 2.79 GAA, .909 SV%, 4 SO
Playoff Stats: 10 GP, 5-5-0 record, 1.78 GAA, .936 SV%, 1 SO
4 Year Averages
(2019-20’s stats were extrapolated to an 82-game rate. Price was injured for most of 2015-16 so his numbers greatly skew the rest of the sample size; it’s better to omit those numbers as a result.)
OT/SO Losses: 6
I’m not going to bother wasting anyone’s time by saying that Allen’s presence will create some internal pressure and if Price falters there could be a goalie controversy. That’s not happening. Price is the starter, plain and simple (unless he gets injured, of course).
Now we get into the more intriguing part for Price. They’re not carrying the richest goaltending tandem in NHL history to have Price get 80+ percent of the starts again. (At least they shouldn’t be…) The idea of bringing Allen in and handing him a two-year extension before he ever played a game for Montreal was for him to take a decent-sized chunk off Price’s workload to allow the 33-year-old to get some more in-season rest.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the best of years for in-season rest given that the schedule is actually more truncated than usual so Claude Julien and company will need to get creative in finding Price some rest beyond the ten back-to-backs. I think they’d like to have a 36/20 split but the very tight playoff race that is expected in what will be a tightly-contested North Division could give Price a few more starts and Allen a few less.
With this being a season where a lot of teams are going to lean on their backups more often than usual, it’s not a great year to take a goalie really early in fantasy drafts. Price is typically rated around the 8-12 range among goalies which seems about right given that the Habs aren’t exactly a team that’s considered a top-flight contender. For most leagues, that should have him going a little before the halfway mark though you can wait longer in single-goalie pools. Price will be picked earlier than that in some leagues but without the near-guarantee of being close to the league lead in games played, his fantasy value has dipped a bit even if his numbers are better playing behind an improved Montreal squad.
OT/SO Losses: 3