If I could sit down with any Oiler and have a beer with them. It might be 6’2, 225lb Al Montoya.
Montoya has really seen a lot of the world and has a real neat backstory. He is the first Cuban American to play in the NHL. He was drafted 6th overall in the 2004 draft (not many goalies get drafted in the first round anymore). He has played for over a dozen teams in his career ranging from Charlotte to San Antonio. He won a World Junior Gold Medal in 2004 in Finland. He was on the losing end of the last Czech medal at the World Juniors in 2005 (yes, it has been that long since the Czechs won a medal at the World Juniors). He has represented the USA at the World’s in Switzerland and Slovakia. It took him 6 years to crack the NHL and he’s been a very solid backup averaging around 15 to 20 games a season since then. By all accounts he is a great guy that is liked by teamates and works very hard. At the age of 32, he still has a chance of playing 200 NHL games with only 30 more games to go. Surely, Al Montoya has some interesting stories to tell. Perseverance, natural talent and dedication all seem to be in his DNA.
The Oiler’s traded a conditional 4th round pick for Montoya in January. He had not played since November due to having concussion issues. Montoya is signed to the end of next season. Here is his 2017/2018 so far:
There are a lot of things I didn’t like about this trade.
1. We could’ve had him for free on waivers so why trade anything?
2. He’s in his 30’s and has another year on his contract. Surely, no one expects him to be our starter anytime soon?
3. He’s coming of a concussion and has barely played.
4. His contract expires at the exact same time as Talbot’s and creates a new problem as we now have 2 question marks with contracts expiring at the same time for a 31 year and 33 year old goalie.
5. Here are 24 year old Brossoit’s stats from this year. Most would agree that Brossoit did not have a good year in the NHL this season:
You might note that Brossoit has a higher Save Percentage and a lower GAA. To me, the more important thing is that both of their save percentages and GAA are nowhere near NHL backup level. Brossoit is sitting at .912 and 2.80 GAA in the AHL after 10 games which I would say is ‘good’.
If Montoya was UFA at the end of this season and Chia traded for him at the start of the season I would’ve said good job and let’s give Cam less starts as he’s a proven backup. But mid season coming of a concussion after the Brossoit run of losses was too little, too late and too long a contract.
To be clear, I feel the season was officially lost during the few weeks that Brossoit became our starter and Chia did nothing to shore up our goaltending while sitting on cap space. I’ve asked repeatedly, but what was the point of acquiring cap space if we’re not going to use it to get help in positions of need? Is there an award for most unused cap space at the GM Meetings?
I get we can bury Montoya in the minors but we should have some good young goalies (and other prospects) in the minors developing to play for us one day. If we send him down, is that less playing time for Brossoit? I don’t care if our AHL affiliate wins, I just want there to be a steady pipeline of players getting developed and getting a lot of minutes. So seeing a 20 year old goalie prospect consistently starting and losing, to me, is better than watch a 30 something veteran winning the goalie stats in the AHL. This is another massive Oiler failing. Our AHL affiliate is not winning that much nor is it developing players. It sort of just exists.
This all circles back to Chia being our GM and all the decisions he has made and also all the decisions he has not made. I sit here looking at next season, the draft, the trade deadline, free agency, McDavid’s new contract and I can’t help but think that I don’t see the Chia plan? Right now, I think we’re worse off today then we were a year ago and I don’t see how we’ll be better a year from now.
This brings me to the second Oiler I’d love to sit down and have a beer with... Peter Chiarelli.