At the corner of De La Montagne and Ste-Antoine, where scalpers were busy waiving tickets to Karl Tremblay’s hommage, the Montreal Canadiens’ penchant for turning waiver wire pickups into multi-year contracts was taking shape for another player. This wasn’t unfamiliar territory for them, from Steve Begin to Paul Byron and the recent rise of Johnathan Kovacevic, the Canadiens have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough. But perhaps none so intriguing as Sam Montembeault, affectionately dubbed “Monty,” who emerged as a beacon of hope when Carey Price’s storied career reached its twilight … Well let’s call it a sunset.
The Canadiens’ recent announcement of his contract extension (three years x $3.15 million) reflects a balanced approach in a challenging situation. While not everyone is convinced Montembeault will morph into the phenomenal goalie to shepherd the Habs through a rebuilding phase, there’s a growing belief that it’s time for the team to pivot from its historical reliance on star goaltenders. Could Montembeault, with his steady presence and improving stats, be the key to a new strategy focused more on offensive prowess than defensive miracles?
Montembeault’s Journey: From a Promising Prospect to NHL Steadfast.
Born on October 30, 1996, Samuel “Sam” Montembeault’s journey from Quebec’s junior leagues to the NHL spotlight is pretty on the spot for the trend we’ve seen over the last decades of obscure emerging goaltenders from the Q (although too few have made this journey if you ask me). His early career saw him dazzle in the junior circuits, with a standout stint at Trois-Rivières Estacades earning him accolades and recognition in the local papers. Drafted 77th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2015, Montembeault’s potential was clear, yet his path to the NHL was anything but direct.
After solid performances in the QMJHL and AHL, Montembeault’s moment came when the Panthers called him up in 2019. His NHL debut came in a loss to the Hurricanes and after that, Montembault was used sparingly.
A New Chapter with the Canadiens
The pivotal moment in Montembeault’s journey came in 2021 when he was claimed off waivers by the Canadiens. Thrust into the limelight as a backup and then as a starter, Montembeault displayed remarkable fortitude, especially in January 2022, when he set a team record with two consecutive games of 48 saves or more. His rise was not just a matter of filling in; The Habs started to feel like they had something special on their hands.
The 2023-24 Season: Montembeault’s Defining Moment
The 2023-24 season began with much speculation as the Canadiens rostered three goalies. Although it’s been an interesting juggling act, Montembault has clearly stood out as the best of the pack so far when it comes to consistency and all those new stats your friends who take hockey pools seriously like to nerd out on.
Montembeault Among His Peers
In the realm of the 2015 Draft class, Montembeault’s growth is evident. He stands among the top in NHL games played, a marker he should be proud of:
He’ll now be adding to that games played number in a Montreal sweater for a few more seasons.