It is tough sometimes when you have to grade guys that you genuinely like, and you have to be a little critical. But here it goes.
Updated 8:00 PM July 4 – Congrats to Al – as he signed a contract with the Winnipeg Jets. He is a class act – and we wish him well.
The record for Al Montoya was 9-11-5 with a 3.10 GAA, and a .893 save percentage. The numbers were not going to jump off the page. In 2010-11, Montoya came out of nowhere, and make a mark for himself. He, at times, was solely responsible for saving face on a tough season. Many games, he was by and far the star, and in his nature, would be so nonchalant, and take-it-as-it-goes. He was just happy as a clam to be at the top level, and was just soaking in as much as he could.
When that season started, no one expected him to end as the top goalie that year. He did just that, getting a new one year one-way contract. It was Garth Snow’s way of saying, you deserve to be here. Now, go out and do it.
When camp closed, it was a three headed monster in net, and it turned out that Al took the reins at the top of the heap. With Nabokov getting hurt, and Ricky, well being Ricky, Montoya was establishing himself as the potential number one that could have been in Manhattan, had some Swedish guy with a slick doo, became the number one.
Enter, Evander Kane.
A little too aggressive, Kane came barreling into Montoya in a game in Winnipeg in December, that was the “Jump the Shark” moment in the season. He was out for a few weeks, and when he came back to the lineup, he just was not the same. His side-to-side shuffle was not as crisp as it was; and I know that there were many goals that he really wished he had to save again. He just was not the same netminder that charmed the Islander nation the season before.
When he struggled, the Islanders had to rely on Kevin Poulin, and Anders Nilsson to pick up the backup slack. With the two of them having solid seasons in the AHL, it would be quite difficult to keep Montoya here. It has not been said in so many words, but he will not be offered a contract, and is an UFA.
For a grade, I have to give him a C-. Although it was not his fault directly (curse you Evander Kane), he just did not get the consistency in net that he had for the prior season. I am hoping that he gets a job somewhere in the league, and does a good job. He is such a nice guy; he was great in the locker room, great with the guys, and is a pleasure to talk to.
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