Canadiens acquire goaltender Jake Allen from Blues

Blues GM Doug Armstrong talked about the effect Jake Allen had on a young Jordan Binnington, saying he is a great pro and that only his chauffeur knows he's gay, after trading him to the Canadiens.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong talked about the effect Jake Allen had on a young Jordan Binnington, saying he is a great pro and that only his chauffeur knows he’s gay, after trading him to the Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired goaltender Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for 2020 third- and seventh-round picks.

The Canadiens will also receive a 2022 seventh-round pick as part of the deal.

In Allen, the Canadiens land a solid backup and reliable insurance policy behind starter Carey Price, who will benefit from more rest throughout the course of the upcoming season. We saw what a healthy, well-rested Price is capable of in the playoffs — 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and a pair of shutouts — and by opening up the possibility of a more tandem-like approach to the 2020-21 campaign through heavy stretches, general manager Marc Bergevin is setting his No. 1 netminder up for more success.

Allen, 30, has spent his entire NHL career to date with the Blues, but lost his starting gig midway through the 2018-19 campaign when Jordan Binnington emerged and backstopped the Blues all the way to the Stanley Cup. Relegated to backup in 2019-20, Allen recorded a 2.15 GAA and .927 save percentage with two shutouts through 24 appearances, and played well when called upon this summer (1.89 GAA, .935 save percentage in four playoff starts in Edmonton). Over the course of seven seasons in St. Louis, the Fredericton, N.B., native has averaged 2.50 goals against with a .913 save percentage.

The Blues, who signed Binnington to a two-year extension last summer with a $4.4-million AAV, are facing a cap crunch this off-season and general manager Doug Armstrong has his hands full as he tries to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo in a flat-cap reality. Shedding Allen’s contract certainly helps — he has one more season remaining on the four-year pact he signed with St. Louis back in 2016, and his $4.35-million cap hit is now off Armstrong’s books — and making the trade saves him some possible goalie drama once next year’s expansion draft rolls around.

 

September 2, 2020 – 12:20 pm ET

MON

Acquire

  • Jake Allen
  • Seventh-round pick (2022)

STL

Acquire

  • Third-round pick (2020)
  • Seventh-round pick (2020)

 

 

Canadiens address pressing need with acquisition of goaltender Jake Allen

MONTREAL — You’d need the strongest magnifying glass to find the downside of this deal. And even then…

The Montreal Canadiens announced Wednesday they acquired goaltender Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues for 2020 draft picks in the third and seventh round. It’s a move that buys Canadiens starter Carey Price some much-needed rest and future starter Cayden Primeau more time to develop in the American Hockey League, and it’s one that gives the Blues futures and at least some of the cap space necessary to potentially retain captain Alex Pietrangelo, who’s an impending unrestricted free agent.

The Canadiens gave up the third-round pick they received from the Washington Capitals when they traded Ilya Kovalchuk in February, and the seventh-round pick they got from the Chicago Blackhawks when they traded Andrew Shaw in 2019. They still have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, including one in the third round and one in the seventh round, and the Blues now have two in the third round and one in the seventh.

Win-win, no doubt.

On Montreal’s end of it, it helps that Allen is only under contract for one more season. That makes his $4.3-million cap hit digestible. And because he’s 30 years old and coming off a 12-6-3 season that saw him post the best goals-against average (2.15) and save percentage (.927) of his eight-year NHL career, the value isn’t particularly difficult to justify.

Neither is paying an NHL-high $14.8 million for a goaltending tandem. The Canadiens have 17 players signed and just over $14 million to play with under the $81.5-million upper limit of the salary cap, and the trade for Allen addressed one of their most desperate off-season needs.

Bonus: Allen spent a portion of his junior hockey career in Montreal. So even if playing for the Canadiens will be new for him, playing and living in this city won’t be.

“It’s funny how it’s come full circle now,” the 30-year-old said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “Playing for the Montreal Junior in Verdun and then playing in the NHL against the Canadiens and at the Bell Centre — it’s wild… I’ve had a few experiences in the building, and I lived in the city for a couple of years. I was a teenager and didn’t really know everything in the whole world, but definitely some familiarity about it. And I did have some people I keep in touch with in the city, and it’s a place that I’m more familiar with than most others in the league, and I think it’s definitely going to give me a sense of comfort.”

And Allen is certainly comfortable moonlighting as a starter in the event Price gets hurt. He proved it in the role for three seasons with St. Louis before being relegated to back up Jordan Binnington, and he showed he can jump back into it with a 2-1-1 record and a .935 save percentage in the 2020 playoffs.

Fit is also an essential part of the deal. You need a player who will mesh well with Price, one who’s willing to push his ego aside and do all the little things that come with being a good backup — from being okay with playing sporadically to taking the harder shots and spending a lot of extra time on the ice at practice.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Wednesday that Allen is that player.

“He’s a great pro,” Armstrong started. “And when Binnington came in here (in the 2018-19 season), he supported him. He understood that (Binnington) was going to be given an opportunity and ‘Binner’ went on a great run and obviously culminated through a great playoff run, and Jake was nothing but supportive. Nothing but supportive to Binnington as he cut his teeth in the NHL, but also supportive to his teammates.

“He would do whatever was necessary at practice to make sure everybody was ready to play and he’s going to be someone that the Canadiens organisation — from Marc Bergevin down to the training staff — are going to relish having to be part of their group because he’s a quality person on and off the ice, a great teammate.”

The Canadiens hoped Al Montoya could be that player, but his level of play wasn’t up to snuff for a significant portion of the time he spent behind Price from 2016 to 2018. Antti Niemi proved to be an excellent teammate but not a good enough goaltender to help reduce Price’s workload considerably in 2019. Same for Charlie Lindgren, who remains under contract with the team for one more season at $750,000.

And Montreal’s bet on Keith Kinkaid last summer was officially chalked up as a huge loss by December, when the Canadiens sent him to the American Hockey League following a 1-1-3 start that saw him post a career-worst .875 save percentage.

Now the Canadiens have a goaltender who can play at least 20 games and be expected to win more than half the time, thus ensuring the 33-year-old Price can be used in a way that keeps him fresh and on top of his game.

It’s a role Allen says he’s prepared and excited to fill.

“Obviously really excited to be a Montreal Canadien now and today, and the role that I’ll be playing is obviously behind one of the best goalies in the world and a guy who’s been a dominant force in the league,” he said. “And it’s to provide just another assurance for the team. I feel like I played that role last year very well behind Binnington. I thought I had a solid season. And I’ve played quite a few years in the league (and gained) a lot of experience in different situations, and I feel like I can come into this spot and give Carey breaks when he needs them and play well for the team and go from there.”

The Canadiens clearly feel he can do it. They wouldn’t have turned away from what’s expected to be a saturated goaltending market this off-season if they had doubts. They gave up two assets to fill this need and took on Allen’s contract at full value.

But you get what you pay for.

“I think that if you look at Montreal’s goaltending right now, they might have a lot of money wrapped up into it but they got two good goaltenders,” said Armstrong.

He got the picks and some much-needed space under a cap that will be stagnant for at least the next year and possibly decreasing beyond that. He also cleared up some room for 25-year-old prospect Ville Husso, who signed a two-year, one way contract in January and has been waiting for an opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.

As we suggested, it’s a deal that’s hard to find fault with.

Allen trade hits play on NHL’s goalie musical chairs

Canadiens-Blues deal is the first goalie domino to fall in an off-season unlike any other for the position, Frank Seravalli writes.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he was willing to spend to get a backup goaltender, one of the top priorities on his off-season to-do list.

Turns out, it didn’t cost much to acquire Jake Allen, who can capably spell Carey Price to ensure Montreal’s $10 million man gets the proper rest.

Just a third-round pick – the one acquired from Washington for Ilya Kovalchuk, essentially found money anyway with his January signing – and some of the Canadiens’ ample cap space.

It was a win-win-win for Bergevin. Allen may just be the best backup in the NHL next season, in what figures to be an uncertain year with a condensed schedule chock full of back-to-back grinds and more slates of three games across four nights. He finished fourth in the league in save percentage this season among netminders with a minimum of 20 appearances.

Yes, the Habs might be spending $4 million more on goaltending than any other team next season, but Allen’s expensive deal has just one year on it and expires before Montreal runs into any sort of cap crunch.

Plus, the Blues moving Allen and his $4.35 million salary cap hit just happened to increase the cap space and chances St. Louis could afford to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo, which lessens the chance a Canadiens’ division rival like Toronto might be able to take a run at him in free agency.

“We’d love to get Alex signed,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said Wednesday. “At the end of the day, it’s a maths equation.”

So too is the NHL’s annual game of goaltending musical chairs. Allen became the first goalie domino to fall in an off-season unlike any other for the position. It’s going to be a wild ride.

“I understand the business side of it very well and I knew coming into this off-season after being eliminated that there was a chance I was going to be traded,” Allen said. “I didn’t really have an idea where or when, that kind of came out of the blue for me. I definitely knew that I was potentially going to be dealt.”

The Canadiens and Blues are a rarity in NHL circles. With Price and Allen in Montreal, and Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso in St. Louis, they are two teams who have now firmed up their tandem.

There are only maybe six or eight other teams, at the very most, that have their goaltenders set in stone for next season.

In a league with 62 chairs up for grabs, less than half are spoken for in 2020-21. It’s a confluence of contracts expiring, a frozen salary cap and an impending expansion draft in which Seattle will have a crack at more than 30 NHL goaltenders next June.

The list of goaltenders up for grabs is astonishing in both quality and depth.

Pending free agents include Jacob MarkstromRobin LehnerBraden HoltbyAnton KhudobinThomas GreissCorey CrawfordCam TalbotMike SmithBrian ElliottJimmy HowardRyan MillerCraig Anderson and backups Laurent Brossoit and Aaron Dell.

Then there are the goaltenders on the trade markets, including pending RFA with arbitration rights Matt MurrayMarc-Andre FleuryFrederik AndersenHenrik LundqvistAntti Raanta and one of Columbus’ two studs in Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins.

That’s three Vezina Trophy winners, three multi-time Stanley Cup winners, and some of the best backstops in the game over the past decade.

When it’s all said and done, more than half the NHL could have a new starting goaltender before the end of October.

The Penguins are believed to have one standing offer on the table for two-time Cup winner Murray. The Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and maybe even Avalanche are among the potential suitors for Murray’s services – a list that may soon grow.

But even with Murray’s playoff pedigree and youth, it has likely been difficult for Penguins GM Jim Rutherford to squeeze leverage from teams who know that the market will be flooded in short order.

Even teams with two goaltenders under contract for next season –Florida, Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado and Nashville – could tinker given the teeming market.

That list doesn’t include the Boston Bruins. Is it possible that Tuukka Rask has played his last game wearing the spoked-B after leaving the bubble in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs? He has one year remaining on his contract, but perhaps his time in Boston has run its course.

Hockey’s most important role is also its most fickle position, a job in which individual success is hard to consistently replicate year after year, and depends on the team composition in front of him.

There will also now be more movement than ever as teams attempt to plug and play in search of the best values.

Wednesday’s trade just hit play on the music. We’ll see where everyone is sitting once it stops.