Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Huet Developing Into Top Goalie

Conventional wisdom was that Montreal's goaltending would be successful if and only if former Hart trophy winner Jose Theodore had a good season. Theodore has not had a good year. He has been embarrassed by testing positive for propecia in pre-Olympic tests, for an Olympic team he did not make. He has not had a very good season. His save percentage is a dissapointing .881. Worse still, he fell at home and broke his heel and is expected to be out until late March. So logically, Montreal must be in bad shape in terms of their goaltending.

Not so fast. His backup Cristobal Huet is playing extremely well. He has a 2.34 GAA and a .926 saves percentage (which is second only to Henrik Lundqvist among goalies with 20 or more games played). This week, he was named the NHL defensive player of the week. In fact, there have been several unheralded goalies winning player of the week this year.

Cristobal Huet has a pretty good track record. He put up good numbers in Los Angeles in the past. I think he will be a very useful goalie for Montreal in the future. He may even lead to Jose Theodore being traded from the Habs. Huet might make Theodore unnecessary.

The remaining $10 million on Theodore's contract will make him untradeable next season and tough to move the season after that.

They'll also have to re-sign Huet, a UFA at season's end, who'll likely push for a considerable raise over the $456K he earned this season. Especially if he carries the Habs into the playoffs.

Moreso if, should the planets align, he carries them to the Cup.
Situations can change quickly.

Huet is from France. I presume that Montreal is the best city for him in the NHL. I presume he would want to stay given a decent offer. I am certain Montreal would love to keep him. The Huet contract situation is something Montreal has a very good change of solving.

As for Theodore, if he looks like he might be back on form as an all star calibre player (which isn't a longshot by any stretch of the imagination) he becomes very tradeable again. All it would take is a good start to next season.

Of course this is all speculation, but I think Huet leading to a Theodore trade in the next year or two is a very plausable scenario.
Huet missed the first two months of the season with a knee injury. Theo will be out the last two months with his heel fracture. It was nice of them to arrange to have their serious injuries at opposite ends of the season.
You were right and I was wrong. I can't believe that Lacroix made this move when he knows Theodore is out until at least the end of March, plus he's still carrying that extra salary when Lacroix has to re-sign Sakic, Blake, Svatos, Tanguay, Liles and Vaananen. This deal favours Montreal in the short term. Time will tell if Lacroix has robbed Les Canadiens again.
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