Canadiens goaltending pipeline

By Alexandre Beland-Bernard






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With Jose Theodore under contract for three years, the Montreal Canadiens
are not in immediate need in the goaltending department, but it’s never a bad
time to take a look at the pipeline for the most important position on the
ice. The recent drafting of Carey Price has certainly changed the
landscape for the organization, one with some solid depth.

Carey Price
5th
overall in 2005 NHL Entry Draft



Price enters the Canadiens
organization as one of its top prospects. He remains in training camp with
the team for now, but will be returning to his WHL team for one more season.
Meanwhile, expect him to benefit greatly from Assistant Coach Roland
Melanson’s teachings.

This past season marked the first time
Price was called upon to assume full-time starter duties for the Tri-City
Americans. He played 63 games last year, second only to Devan
Dubnyk (EDM) and Aaron Sorochan’s 65 appearances, and ranked second in the WHL
in minutes played (3712). His 2.34 goals against average, .920 save percentage,
24 wins and eight shutouts all landed Price within the top 10 of all goalie
categories for the 2004-05 season. The native of Williams Lake, B.C. earned CHL
Player of the Week and CHL Goalie of the Week honors for the week ending
December 19, 2004.


The honors would not stop
there for Price, who participated in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game in
Vancouver. At the conclusion of the Americans 2005 playoff drive, Price again
played at the U-18 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic where his
brilliant play backstopped Canada to a silver medal. He may get the chance to
represent Canada in the 2006 WJC as well.

It is
Price’s agility and quick reflexes that put him in the sight of many teams
looking for a potential franchise goaltender. Not only is Price able to read and
react quickly, but he is also able to steer rebounds into the corners with
relative ease. Playing a butterfly style, Price is excellent at taking away the
lower portion of the net, and relies on his quick hands to cover the upper
portion. One thing is certain; the Habs have secured their goaltending future
with such a prospect in their system, one who might, according to some experts,
have enough talent to skip a few steps on his way to the NHL.

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04Tri-CityWHL2889312.38.915
2004-05Tri-CityWHL632431882.34.920

Yann Danis




Signed as a free agent (2004)

The goalie that was supposed to back
up Theodore this season, Frenchman Cristobal
Huet, is out at least until January with injury, giving one lucky prospect
an unexpected chance to strut his stuff.
The 24 year-old Yann Danis is the
most NHL-ready goaltending prospect for the Canadiens and will most likely get
the chance.

Danis played
four seasons at Brown University and was a finalist for the 2004 Hobey Baker
award. He was named the 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year and 2004 ECAC Player
of the Year. With his impressive statistics and records,
it’s a wonder that he was never drafted.



His first season
in the AHL proved that his college performance wasn’t just a product of his
defense, as he performed
admirably for the Bulldogs in 2004-05. Danis helped the struggling team make a playoff push
at the end of the 2004-05 season, posting a 28-17-6 record, along with five
shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. Those 28
wins proved to be a franchise record for Canadiens farm teams.

Danis has good lateral movement, and takes up a lot
of space in net. Tough to beat down low, he has very quick reflexes. His biggest
asset is his work ethic.

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04Brown Univ.NCAA301511451.81.942
Hamilton AHL220011.50.933
2004-05Hamilton AHL532817652.34.924

Jaroslav Halak

271st overall in 2003 NHL Entry Draft

Another
young goalie with NHL-level potential, Jaroslav Halak moved to North America
last season from Slovakia. In a league known for high-powered offense, Halak shone for the QMJHL Lewiston Maineiacs.
He ended the season with 24 wins against 17 losses, and posted an impressive 2.78 GAA and .913 save percentage. When Lewiston was knocked out of the playoffs, Halak was able to join the Bulldogs and work out with the squad.


Halak was the starter for Team Slovakia’s U-20 WJC team in 2004 and 2005.
He plays deep in net but
has solid positioning and quick reflexes. He uses a mixture of styles to stop
the puck.


Signed
to an entry-level contract this fall, Halak
will look to make the jump
to the pros.
Expect him to get starting duties either with Hamilton (AHL) or with Long Beach
(ECHL).

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04Bratislava Slovan HarvardSlovak12 01.66.942
2004-05LewistonQMJHL472417442.78.913

Chris Heino-Lindberg
177th overall in 2003 NHL Entry Draft

After
a tough season in 2003-
04
that saw Heino-Lindberg loaned to the worst team in the
league, 2004-05 had to be a great change of pace. He was brought back to
Hammarby in the Swe
dish
second division
, one of the top teams in the league. Up until the World Junior
tournament started, he had started every game for Hammarby, where he was
tops in the league in goals against (1.81) and save percentage (.927).

Quick reflexes and sound
positioning are his main strengths. He handles the puck well,
h
as a quick glove hand and reads the play well.

Heino-Lindberg
will
play in the SEL for the 2005-06 season.

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04VallentunaSEL223 4.77.896
HammarbyJ-20 SE8 2.48.922
HammarbySEL21 3.73.857
2004-05HammarbySEL230 1.81.927
HammarbyJ-20 SE3 2.22.944

Olivier Michaud
Signed as free agent (2001)

Michaud did not play enough games during the 2000-01 season
to merit being drafted, but he was subsequently invited to the Canadiens’
rookie camp that fall. He played half of one game during the prospect tournament in Hull,
but it was enough to warrant a contract offer to begin once he graduated to
professional hockey.

Michaud went from un drafted, to gaining an NHL contract, playing in an
NHL game, and making the Canadian WJC team, all in the space of six months. More
recently, he split the 2003-04 season between Columbus of the ECHL and Hamilton
of the AHL, and spent the 2004-05 season with Long Beach of the ECHL.
His fast rise has now leveled off.

Michaud is a typical butterfly goalie
who has strong balance and excellent lateral movement. In 2005-06, Michaud will have to
compete with Jaroslav Halak, and, possibly with Yann Danis and an Edmonton
goaltender, for time in Hamilton.

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04Hamilton AHL1647322.53.905
ColumbusECHL22810213.01.896
2004-05Long Beach ECHL411814612.54.918



Loic Lacasse
181st overall in
2004 NHL Entry Draft

Lacasse was drafted out of
Baie Comeau, and was the first goalie the Canadiens selected from the QMJHL
since 1996 when they took Mathieu Garon 44th overall. Lacasse was able to
show some impressive play on a team that struggled defensively for two
consecutive seasons. He has the size and skill level to go onto the next level,
just needs to get more game experience over the next two years.



Lacasse possesses decent size, and an excellent
glove hand to go with decent puck handling skills. He needs, however, to improve
on his lateral movement and reading the play. He will return to
Baie-Comeau for another season.

SeasonTeamLeagueGPWLTSOGAASPCT
2003-04Baie-ComeauQMJHL41915403.99.891
2004-05Baie-ComeauQMJHL391022214.14.882






Jason
Menard,
Aaron Vickers and Guy Flaming
contributed to this article.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or
otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.