Sunday, September 09, 2007

Carey Price Will Start Season In Montreal

Remember that no matter where you read this statement next, I am underlining it loudly now, as it is carved in stone in my mind.

For a bundle of logical reasons.

Yes, there are some hockey thinkers that propose not rushing a blue chip prospect such as Price. They subscribe to gently cradling this diamond in the rough in fear of a setback of sorts hampering his progress and having doubt seep into his confidence.

That is smart advice that is usually smack on - in 95% of cases.

Carey Price, if you have not already noticed , is the exception to the rule in a big way.

Consider the player's resume over the last season alone, his rock solid attitude, calm temperment and the fact that he is no longer 18 years old, and it all adds up to a goalie who is NHL ready.

Will he be able to handle the pressure, you worry?

If rising victorious from a multi - round shootout at the WJC in front of an audience of millions hasn't convinced you, perhaps his accomplishments in last season's Calder Cup can.

Pressure is being a fresh out of junior prospect parachuted into the hopes of a middle of the pack AHL squad and being told "lead us!"

The mandate was insane, in some senses.

In Habs history, Price's rise to the top of AHL glory was almost a carbon copy duplicate of Patrick Roy's heroics in Sherbrooke some 22 years prior. The difference is, Roy's was accidental - a tale of goalie's injured, another tending to a pregnant wife. Luck, fortune, and timing paved the way for Roy's brilliance to unfurl.

Price being catapulted into Hamilton's drive was very much deliberate, and he passed his insane test with flying colors.

It was as though the Canadiens organization said, "Take us as far as you can lead us, son, we've faith in you!"

Pressure and expectations aren't what rattles this young man. He is perfectly suited for the Canadiens steam kettle, moreso than any goaltender I can remember not named Dryden or Roy.

Standing in Price's way in Montreal are Jaroslav Halak and starter Cristobal Huet, a tandem with a certain amount of clout and merit in the eyes of many.

In only two seasons, Huet has been a discovery. A throw in from the Radek Bonk deal pre - lockout, he has done the unimaginable in short order. In succession, he chased a Hart Trophy winning goalie out of town, led the league in save percentage, and earned himself a place in last season's All Star Game. No mean feat! Were it not for two injuries, Koivu's eye in 2006, and his own last season, his evaluation, and that of the Canadiens, would be much more illustrious.

Lady luck can be a five letter word starting with B!

Halak has been just as much of wild card paying big dividends. Drafted in the ozone rounds, he leapfrogged all Habs goalie prospects in sight, to earn the callup as Huet's replacement last winter. His play chewed up and spit out David Aebischer in its wake, and he led the Habs to within a win of a playoff berth.

Guy Carbonneau might still have second guessing nightmares about choosing Huet over Halak in the final tilt, but that's a history lesson for another time.

Great as both Halak's and Huet's recent accomplishments are, they are part of the past.

Not to demean what they have done, but the present tense says that Huet is the number one goalie of confidence, with a deal expiring at year's end, and Halak has been a pleasant surprise with an interesting upside.

Nothing more, nothing less.

With Price being tagged the goalie of the future, his present assessment carries with it a great deal of weight. And that assessment have a trickle down of circumstances.

Some training camp watchers have attested to Price being the best Canadiens goalie in the last two training camps. Added to that, the Canadiens deciders know Price has passed every high ordered task handed to him so far.

Returning Price to the AHL would only serve to confirm what is already known about him. Confirming such things only wastes time.

Time is of the essense in determining not only Price's fate, but those of Huet, Halak, and then others.

Huet's impending free agaency offers the Canadiens the option of resigning him, trading him, or both. Examining how he co - habitates with a goalie fighting for his number one job will go a long way in determing his future usefullness, contract offer included.

Canadiens fans have just watched Sheldon Souray skip town with no return value, the Habs brass might shudder to think of fans perceptions should they let Huet slip away with no return.

In Halak's case, the Habs are dealing with a goaltender who has spent a half season at the AHL level, and a stint in the NHL. A just goalie evaluation normally occurs during a stoppers second go round with opposition shooters.

To explain in short, there is no flash in the pan quite like a goalie. Opposition shooters initially foiled due to unfamiliarity with a goalie, tend to smarten up the second time around. Perfect examples of this are Aebischer and Andrew Raycroft. Knowing all about a goaltenders tendencies, is the shooters book. A solid goaltender stymies shooters over a long period of time. A less sound goalie is exposed when shooters adapt to what foiled them at first glance.

This is the Halak connundrum at present. Neither the AHL or NHL shooters have yet to take a second shot at him.

Before you make a case for Halak, I'll make Price's case.

In four rounds of AHL playoffs, four teams, each one better than it's predecessor, had multiple looks at Carey Price without being able to solve him. Through five, six, and seven game series', Price continued to hold the upper hand.

Price has little to prove beyond that at the AHL level. Halak does.

Behind Huet, Halak, and Price are three goaltenders whose values have yet to be tested for endurance. Yann Danis has shown consistency, while being overlapped by exceptional students. His brief NHL stint showed promise, but he like Huet could be free as a bird at the expiry of the next season. For all intents, Cedric Desjardins, Loic Lacasse are well spoken unknown quantities.

What conspires to make all their invidividual scenarios so precarious, is that the Habs have drafted no goalies in 2006 and 2007. With goaltending a depth jealousy at the time, and defense a need, the Canadiens smartly focused on their most glaring future void.

Signing also ran goalie prospect is one time saving option available to the Canadiens in this eventuality, but replacing goalie needs in the case of injuries and free agent defecttions can deplete an organiation very quickly.

Examples of this are rampant. No need to look further than the Los Angeles Kings summoning up Sean Burke from the dead last season to see how quickly an organization can run through stoppers when Lady Luck sours.

Should the 2007-08 season end with the Canadiens depth chart at the goaltending position resembling a combination of Price, Halak, Lacasse, and Desjardins, the Habs have much pre-planning to do.

Having Price spend an AHL season in vain, will have consequences. Primordially, the fate of Huet and Danis lies in the balance of ascertaining the NHL readiness of Carey Price.
Ask yourself, those of you who still believe Price still needs a year of AHL seasoning, if Montreal can afford to wait out the circumstances.

Carey Price's time is now.

And you read it here first.


Bryan said...

i guess it's like the situation with gui -- you couldn't send him back to junior cuz he had nothing left to prove.

can't send carey to the bulldogs -- he already won them a flippin' calder cup!

Anvilcloud said...

I have trouble seeing a Huet-Price tandem. Would you actually sit Huet 70% of the time? What happens to his possible trade value if you do? How about Huet-Halak with Huet playing 60% of the time and Price playing almost all of the time in Hamilton. That way all three goalies get a reasonable amount of work. Then, some team needs a goalie, and you trade Huet and bring Price up. That gives the team a fresh injection when they might need it later in the season. Well, I don't know -- I simply have trouble getting my head around the Huet-Price combo.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what will happends to Danis / Halak if let's say Huet and Price make the clubs.

The way i was seeing the whole story but hey the real camp hasnt started yet...

Start Carey and Huet with Big Club
Halak and Danis as backup in AHL Hamilton...

febuary when the trade day arrive, trade up Huet if Price does well, if he can hold the fort for the remaining games with Halak as back up.

Risky trade but then if Carey can hold up the fort....i dont see why we shouldnt trade Huet.

What could make it difficult if Huet cause a big problem for the CH in doing that, what if he wins so much games that it would be a bad trade for the CH...well then in my mind his value is only higher.

but that's just me. For an other experience and the fact that i think that huet can co-play with Price.


RetroMikey said...

Carey Price will be plying for the Bulldogs until Xmas. After the New Year he will be called up and Cristobal Huet will be traded for a big offensive centreman we need. Danis or Halak will fight for for that 2nd string position for Les Canadiens. This is what's going to happen....mark my word!

BC Tory said...


Sorry to post off-topic comments on this blog, but I'm starting a Canadian blog, and am looking for one blogger to represent each Canadian team. I am frantically searching for a Habs blogger, and was wondering what interest you had in blogging on this thing. You can crosspost whatever you write on your blog onto my blog, as most of my bloggers will likely do. Any contribution you can or would like to give to the blog would be great. Let me know

Topham said...

Very well written and researched as per usual.

I think you're wrong though. Carey Price does have something to learn in the AHL and it's how to play with consistency over 6 months – something he has done to some extent, but could still improve upon.

He, unlike Halak, hasn't led his league in statistics in any of his past seasons. He has also failed to produce the heroics he did for Canada and Hamilton with this own team (his 4th place team out of 16) were eliminated in round 1 of the WHL playoffs.

I agree with most of your other assertions, but not with the AHL being a waste of time. I did a little contrarian blog on it myself, actually – so thanks for the bold prediction to get me all worked up.

Clipitar said...

About topham's comment,

I just want to point out I've closely followed Tri-City's past playoff run (on the internet) and all I can say is that Carey Price was alone on that team at that moment.

The series went to the 7th game if I remember well and Tri-City wasn't able to score any goals throughout the series. It was ridiculous how Price was left to himself, regularly facing twice as many shots than is opposer. The Americans were shutout at least twice, while Carey would allow a goal or two only in those games. He was The reason they could even dream of passing the first round.

Even the Bulldogs were more offensive than the Americans. That says a lot!

Anonymous said...

Huet and Price start for the Habs.. Halak gets more and more ice time to improve so when we do move Huet he's ready too. Huet doesnt need to play more than Gerber to be considered in a trade...

Robert L said...

Lots of comments on this post. I will answer/address in order...kinda!

Bryan - My thoughts summed up exactly!

Anvilcoud - I have stolen your blog post name, shelled out big bucks for the patent, and sold it for a grand to the metal band wannabees down the corner. Thanks!

1 - No, I would split the Huet/Price work 50/50 until a victor emerges. Being more anxious to see what Price has to prove in the NHL, I'm not as concerned about Halak. I don't want this to be Huet's last season in Montreal, but being Huet controls his destiny more than the Habs control it, finding out what Price can do in the NHL is imperative.

As in October!

Anonymous I - The Habs can lose both Huet and Danis by the season's end. Knowing that, the Habs need to know what Price can do now. We can't keep them all, and the team must get a return on traded or lost goalies.

NHL shooters have yet to get familiar with Halak, so there is a risk there as well. The Canadiens need to emerge from 2007-08 with 3 of the 4. Playing Price in the NHL is the shortest route to future knowledge.

It's a dilema - all 4 are good and worthy!

Retromikey - I am marking your word - because it is a lucridous notion for the Habs to trade Huet before knowing what Price can handle in the NHL.

Huet may traded, but with the scenario you envision, it's a mojor roll of the dice.

My way, makes your idea make more sense. Think it over again!

BC Tory....If I had a dime!

Thank you for the kind offer. At this point, I unfortunately have to pass for a number of reasons. One being that another blog has snapped up that commitment time. Two is that I have also passed on others, and in all know the rest.... Three, I'm more committed than a ten cent whore. I work 48 hours a week, I run my blog, I have a 12 year old daughter on travel team hockey, I might be that teams assistant coach, and I have a younger kid in gynnastics.

Did I mention marriage?

I consider your offer the highest praise, but again I must pass, apologetically. Having said that, feel free to use my postings on the Habs to the advantage and benefit of your site. Simply credit me and this site as reference, and I'm smilimg for both of us.

Best of luck in your endeavors!

Topham, my friend - I'll let Clipitar's comment be my answer.

We can discuss it again in a month and eat words - just for fun!

Anonymous - I agrre with you two thirds of the way. The Huet/Gerber comparison, I just can't swallow.

Gerber is a starter who played himself into a backup role.

Huet was once a backup, who stole a starter's role, chasing him out of town.

Huet is cheaper while being a number 1 goalie.

Gerber is considered in a trade because his salary is waste for a backup.

There's not a taker for him in sight, or he'd be goners by now.

Huet's trade scenario has all to do with impending free agency.

I don't get your point.

Other than that you were 66.6 % right in my eyes.

Topham said...

I concede that I used statistics in a way that I loathe (sight unseen). I didn't intend to put Carey Price down as I hope he makes the team too. As I said, I just think there are things left for him to learn, even in the AHL.

Speaking of goalies hung out to dry without any offence, I couldn't help thinking of another name though: Jaroslav Halak (NHL version).

Bryan said...

looks like you were right ! price is starting in MTL !