It has been nothing short of a roller-coaster season for Connor LaCouvee. Originally signed to a professional tryout (PTO) contract, the 24-year-old netminder has done everything in his power to show the Laval Rocket and the Montreal Canadiens just how good he can be if given the chance.
The B.C. native has amassed a 6-1-2 record with a dazzling 1.83 goals-against average and .933 save percentage with Laval. Those are elite goaltending numbers, and he’s doing it on a Rocket team sorely lacking high-end talent.
His sudden emergence for the Rocket could not have come at a better time for the organization as a whole. Antti Niemi will likely leave as a free agent this summer, and Charlie Lindgren will more than likely take over the role as backup to Carey Price. Cayden Primeau has a few years left of NCAA eligibility, so he won’t be coming to the professional ranks quite yet. That leaves just Michael McNiven alone at the AHL level, unless Montreal decides to ink a goalie this off-season.
LaCouvee who was signed to an AHL-only deal earlier this season after his intial PTO ran out, appears to have the talent to be a difference-maker at the AHL level, and giving him a full two-way contract for next season is a smart move. He will cost the team next to nothing against the cap, the team is not currently hard-up for contract spots, and above all else he can provide quality at the goaltending position.
His strong play continues a powerful trend of Montreal taking a chance on goalies in no-risk situations. Lindgren was an undrafted free agent signing, and he’s put in solid work despite the injuries he’s battled. McNiven lit the OHL on fire in his last year of play, and he too was undrafted before Montreal grabbed him after inviting him to rookie camp. Finally there’s Primeau, who was a seventh-round pick, and has gone on to be one of the NCAA’s best netminders.
LaCouvee could very well be that next diamond in the rough for Montreal, and after this season it’s worthwhile for the Canadiens to see what he can do as a full-time member of the organization.