What's better than having one of the best up-and-coming young netminders in the NHL?
Having two of them.
After signing Jaroslav Halak to a cap-friendly two-year, $1.55 million contract, the Canadiens have locked up their goaltending situation and have put all minds to rest about the immediate future in net.
Along with Halak, GM Bob Gainey went out and got the all important veteran netminder signing Marc Denis to a one-year deal. Denis is being brought in to become a mentor to starter Carey Price and Halak, having more than 300 NHL games experience with the Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The place in which Carey Price is in right now is very similar to Denis' situation when the Blue Jackets entered the NHL back in 2000. Denis had the major workload for the Jackets starting in the 2002-03 season until his departure after the 2005-06 season, posting 20 wins or more in three seasons as the starter.
Despite being older than Price when he was thrust into the starter role, Denis still knows what it's like to become the starter and what it takes.
With those three goalies locked up for the immediate future, the Canadiens can also look to their younger goaltenders.
Cedrick Desjardins and Loic Lacasse may be over 20 years of age, but still have good potential to become NHL goaltenders. Desjardins, formerly a Quebec Remparts goalie in the QMJHL, finished his first professional year of hockey in the ECHL with the Canadiens affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones. He posted a 21-14-0 record with a .922 SV%.
Lacasse, 22, also finished his first year of professional hockey with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder of the IHL posting a 19-18-5 record with a .906 SV%.
With the departure of Yann Danis to the New York Islanders after not being able to crack the Canadiens lineup in the last few years and having dwindling numbers with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, Desjardins is looking to make an impact in Hamilton in 2008-09. In twelve games in 2007-08, Desjardins went 4-4-1 with a .909 SV% with the Bulldogs after Cristobal Huet was dealt at the deadline and Halak was brought up to the Canadiens.
Desjardins may split time with either Denis or Halak this season in Hamilton, unless they keep the top three up in Montreal for the majority of the season. If that happens, Desjardins may be the starter with Lacasse backing him up.
Apart from those two goalies, the Canadiens also selected 6'8 Jason Missiaen in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Peterborough Petes netminder went 8-8-1 with a .911 SV% this last season. Despite his mediocre numbers as a backup, Missiaen's bulky size does not affect his flexibility and positioning as would be expected with a larger netminder.
With Price, Halak, Denis, Desjardins, Lacasse, and the young Missiaen in the Canadiens goaltending system, the future looks bright between the pipes.