Price was drafted fifth overall by the Canadiens in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and since 2007-08 he has appeared in no fewer than 41 games per season. In 271 career games Price has a record of 124-104-35-16, with a 2.56 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and 16 shutouts.
Yes, Price has had his share of ups and downs with the Habs. During the 2009-10, season Price took a back seat to Jaroslav Halak, who backstopped the eighth-seeded Habs to the Eastern Conference finals. However, both goaltenders were restricted free agents following the season and then-GM Pierre Gauthier decided to stick with Price and traded Halak to the St. Louis Blues.
Price, now 24 years old, has not yet to entered the prime of his career. With that in mind, the 2012-13 season could be best of Price’s career thus far.
Price’s new contract should provide him with a level of confidence and comfort that his previous short-term deals could not have given him. With a $6.5 million cap hit, the Habs have made a statement that Price is their goalie of the future and they believe he will be one of the best in the NHL.
Consider the contracts of elite NHL goaltenders such as Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick, and it's clear how highly GM Marc Bergevin thinks of Price.
Lundqvist, the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner, is entering the fifth year of a six-year, $41.25 million contract that carries a cap hit of $6.87 million. The 2012 Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion Quick agreed to a 10-year, $58 million contract this offseason. The deal will pay Quick $7 million each season from 2013-14 through 2019-20, but carries a cap hit of $5.8 million.
Experience in Pressure Situations
While he’s only 24, Price has the experience of having played in a pressure-filled environment throughout his entire NHL career. Price has seen how the Montreal fans can react when he or the team performs poorly, but he’s also witnessed the positive reactions during the team’s 2010 playoff run and during the 2010-11 season, when he played brilliantly.
Price suited up for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, winning gold in 2007. Price went 6-0, recorded two shutouts, a 1.14 goals-against average, a .960 save percentage and was named the MVP of the tournament. His toughest task came in the semifinals, when Canada defeated the USA in a shootout to go on to the gold medal game.
Price also had success in the AHL playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs. In the 2007 AHL playoffs, Price led the team to a Calder Cup championship. He went 15-6 with two shutouts, a 2.06 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and was named the MVP of the playoffs.
A goaltender can only do so much; the rest of the team must support him with strong defensive play and consistent scoring.
Under the guidance of new GM Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens have quietly had a successful offseason. Michel Therrien was hired on as head coach, his second stint with the team. Bergevin also hired Patrice Brisebois, Martin Lapointe, Scott Mellanby and Rick Dudley to fill various management and personnel positions.
Bergevin signed free agents Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust, who should provide depth up front for the Canadiens. The Habs also managed to re-sign all of their important free agents, with the exception of P.K. Subban, who could be signed in the coming weeks.
While the roster is similar to last year, the 2012-13 Canadiens will have a new approach under different coaches, managers, etc. As long as they can remain healthy and their top forwards produce, this team should have no problem helping Price reach 30 or even 35 wins, depending on how many games he starts.
In 2010-11 Price started a career-high 72 games and had his best season statistically. He went 38-28-6-8 with eight shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
Price is capable of matching, if not besting those numbers next season. He has the talent to become one of NHL’s best goaltenders and contend for the Vezina Trophy in the coming years. He could also be a member of Canada’s Olympic hockey team, should NHL players be eligible for the 2014 Sochi games.
The Habs may not be considered a playoff team by many, but Price could give them a chance to contend for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference next season.