Expansion draft: The Canadiens need to expose a goaltender, and Carey Price is their only current option

Will the goaltending situation force Marc Bergevin to make a trade?

You may have heard by now that the Montreal Canadiens have a slight problem in regards to the upcoming expansion draft on June 20th in regards to the requirement to leave a goaltender unprotected for the new Las Vegas franchise to choose from.

The protection rules for goaltenders are as follows:

  • Every team can protect one goaltender
  • All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club's applicable protection limits)./

Secondly, the goaltender exposure requirement is as follows:

  • One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club's protected list./

Having stated the rules for protection and exposure, let’s look at the current goaltending situation.

Carey Price

  • Contract Status: Signed for 2017-18
  • Commentary: The least surprising news you will hear today, this week, this month, and this year is that the Canadiens are going to choose to use their one goaltender protection on Price. This point requires no elaboration.
  • Decision: Protected/

Al Montoya

  • Contract Status: UFA 2017-18
  • Commentary: Since Montoya is not signed for next season, he is ineligible to be left exposed for the expansion draft. However the Las Vegas team will have an exclusive 48-hour window prior to the expansion draft to negotiate with him. If they choose to sign Montoya, Las Vegas will be ineligible to pick another player from the Canadiens.
  • Decision: Ineligible/

Charlie Lindgren

  • Contract Status: RFA 2017-18
  • Commentary: As a second-year professional, Lindgren is exempt from the draft, which is a good thing for the team, as he is looking spectacular for the IceCaps this season, and is likely a shoe-in to be the Canadiens’ backup next season.
  • Decision: Exempt/

Zachary Fucale

  • Contract Status: Signed 2017-18
  • Commentary: Fucale will be a second-year professional as well, and therefore cannot be exposed by the Canadiens, although if there was one signed goaltender that the Canadiens would probably not be too concerned about losing, it would be Fucale.
  • Decision: Exempt/

Michael McNiven

  • Contract Status: Signed 2017-18
  • Commentary: Although he signed his entry-level deal, McNiven was returned to junior for two seasons now, causing his contract to slide. As he is not considered a professional he is exempt from the expansion draft. He should be making his professional debut next season with the Rocket de Laval.
  • Decision: Exempt/

Hayden Hawkey

  • Contract Status: Unsigned Prospect
  • Commentary: The Canadiens don’t have to sign their NCAA goaltending prospect until August 15, 2019, leaving him exempt from the draft.
  • Decision: Exempt/

Yann Danis

  • Contract Status: UFA 2017-18
  • Commentary: Currently playing for the IceCaps on an AHL contract, Danis is in a similar situation as Al Montoya, in that the Canadiens cannot expose him.
  • Decision: Ineligible/


  • The Canadiens can sign Montoya to a contract extension through 2017-18 in order to then expose him and fulfil their draft requirements. This would be the simplest option, however it means that they will have him under contract for next season if he’s not seleced in the draft, which will complicate Lindgren’s ascent and create a glut in goaltender depth as Fucale and McNiven will be looking for spots as well.
  • The Canadiens can sign Danis to an NHL contract for the remainder of this season and next and make him eligible for the draft, but that would mean that he would be the veteran goaltender in Laval next season, leaving one of McNiven or Fucale to battle out for the AHL backup position.
  • Sign a current UFA goaltender (such as Karri Ramo) to an NHL contract for the remainder of this season and next. Not an ideal option by any means since that would create a huge logjam in the current goaltending depth.
  • Trade for a veteran goaltender who is signed through 2017-18, but who to send the other way?
  • Trading Montoya would likely be complicated by the fact that Montoya’s expiring contract is not necessarily something that other teams will be looking for, plus it would likely necessitate expediting Lindgren to backup, which may be risky come playoff time.
  • Trading Fucale for a veteran goaltender who is signed through 2017-18 could be a difficult scenario to envisage given Fucale’s struggles so far in professional hockey, as he has very little return value. This situation would likely be a scenario where the Canadiens solve their problem by solving another team’s problem. If the Canadiens traded for Andrew Hammond, for example, he would only cost $400K in buried salary against the cap next season, relieving the Ottawa Senators of a salary that the cash-strapped team probably would like to get rid of. Hammond would offer a veteran backup for Michael McNiven in the AHL, while also being NHL-experienced in case of a call-up. Lindgren backs up Price in the NHL to start the season. Under this scenario there is no glut formed in the depth./

As you can see there are options available to Marc Bergevin ahead of the expansion draft, but the situation is complicated and will necessitate a careful balancing act to not disrupt the current campaign while not over-committing and creating a problem for next season.

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