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2021 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: #7 Cayden Primeau

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A tough year in the AHL sees Primeau drop in the rankings for the first time.

Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

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One of the hardest jobs in hockey is probably being a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. With legends such as Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Georges Vézina, Patrick Roy, and, dare I say, Carey Price, living up to that mantle is insanely hard.

It should come as no surprise that the Canadiens intend to get the most out of their young netminder. Former director of goaltending Stéphane Waite expressed that Cayden Primeau would require at least another 150 starts in the AHL before being ready.

The slow, steady, approach with the young goaltender might be the best route right now. Despite the inconsistent starts, Primeau has been showing flashes of brilliance in the AHL and NHL. He is still a long way off, but the tools are there and the potential is real.

At 22 years old, Primeau still hasn’t reached his peak form. Another year or two in the AHL should season him enough for a full-time job in Montreal.

Elite Prospects

His stats in the AHL might not seem like those of a top netminder, but Primeau has been playing well behind a porous defence in the AHL. So far, his progress has shown that he has what it takes to reach the NHL level in the future.

Voting

A 2017 seventh-round draft choice, Primeau has shown that his draft spot had no bearing on his talents. Pegged as the heir apparent, Primeau has been ranked by nearly everyone inside the top 10.

Top 25 Under 25 History

Primeau has been a fast riser since entering the Habs’ system, in both the organization and on our list. He started off at #36, but two stellar seasons at Northeastern University since improved his stock. This is the first year Primeau has lost ground in the rankings. Some questions about his readiness after some shaky games last season stopped the ascent this year.

History of #7

Year #7
Year #7
2020 Victor Mete
2019 Cole Caufield
2018 Ryan Poehling
2017 Scherbak/Juulsen (T-7)
2016 Daniel Carr
2015 Zack Kassian
2014 Jacob de la Rose
2013 Jarred Tinordi
2012 Brendan Gallagher
2011 Danny Kristo
2010 Max Pacioretty

Strengths

Primeau is a stylistically good goaltender. Technically sound, he is quick and often squared to the shooter. relying on a good foundational butterfly technique and athleticism to bail him out when he’s out of position.

He has had the chance to evolve within a lot of good programs throughout the years, from his time in the USHL to the NCAA with Northeastern University and now the Laval Rocket in the AHL. He’s built himself through a lot of effort and talent.

One of the best attributes he possesses is his cool and calm demeanor. He’s excellent at brushing off bad goals and staying focused on the task at hand. With his height and strength, he is able to react quickly and track the puck well. His size helps him cover a lot of space, cutting down angles of opposing shooters.

His skating is also an underrated aspect of his game. His edgework is very good, moving quickly and crisply to set up before a shot is taken. Stick-handling is also a highlight of his game, which has helped out in key situations.

Weaknesses

Of course, it doesn’t mean this young man has no flaws. As much as his athleticism has been a key component of his game, he’s also prone to mismanaging himself. By that I mean not having full control of his movement. Sometimes shots that have no business going in end up in the back of the net due to an issue positioning his body or controlling it correctly to block the shot. His mastery of his physique is not as developed as other aspects of his game.

What’s more, Primeau needs to start cleaning up his game and putting out a more consistent effort on the ice. As much as he seems unfazed by bad goals, developing a more polished way of stopping pucks would go a long way.

His frame is a key component that could easily allow him to become an excellent netminder in the NHL. At 6’4”, he has the height, but he could stand to gain a bit more weight to fill it out. Better leg strength will help him control his lateral slides and keep him in the play when the follow-up shot comes. He’ll also still needs more experience and games played going forward to keep developing and polishing his skill set.

Projection

It is clear at this point that Primeau has the tools to earn a spot in the NHL, but the Canadiens won’t rush him.

The question is whether he’ll be 1A or 1B. As Primeau needs more time in the AHL, he won’t suit up full-time for the Habs this upcoming season. If he keeps progressing well, 2022-23 might be the season where Primeau starts pushing for a regular job in the NHL.

Price’s play might be declining a bit every year, yet his position as the number-one goaltender is still solid with the organization. With Jake Allen secured for the upcoming season, Primeau can keep toiling away and preparing himself to take over sooner than we might think.


Today’s podcast feature none other than Marc-Antoine Levis and Ken Brumberger, the current and former Eyes on the Prize goalie specialist. Follow them both on twitter, @AntoineLevis and @Minivan_Dad: