The St. Louis Blues traded goalie Jake Allen and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for a third-round and seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The 30-year-old netminder comes with a $4.3 million cap hit, but there’s just a year remaining. That will give the Habs the NHL’s highest-priced goaltending tandem, what with Carey Price carrying a cap hit of $10.5 million.
For Montreal, this is by and large an insurance policy acquisition. Allen gives Price a chance to rest throughout the regular season, prepping him for a post-season run.
Allen lost the starting gig in St. Louis to Jordan Binnington, who signed a two-year contact extension last summer. But he came through big time in the playoffs when the 27-year-old faltered, posting a 2-1-1 record in the bubble for a .935 save percentage.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been up against it to shed cap, with the re-signing of Alex Pietrangelo at the top of his to-do list. The looming expansion draft could create complications, so St. Louis has seen their way to some crease clarity.
The Habs gave up the third-round pick they received from the Washington Capitals in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade and the seventh-rounder from 2019 in the Andrew Shaw trade. That still gives Montreal a dozen picks in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Allen has some history in Montreal.
“It’s funny how it’s come full circle now,” he said Wednesday. “Playing for the Montreal Junior in Verdun and then playing in the NHL against the Canadiens…I’ve had a few experiences in the building, and I lived in the city for a couple of years…And I did have some people I keep in touch with in the city, and it’s a place that I’m more familiar with than most others in the league, and I think it’s definitely going to give me a sense of comfort.”
That sense of comfort should go a long way to providing the Canadiens with the tandem they need to push things to the next level. Getting someone to work alongside Price will be vital.
Montreal has been down this road before. They tried it with Al Montoya, Antti Niemi, Charlie Lindgren, and Keith Kinkaid – just to name a few.
Allen, however, has the pedigree and experience to play 20 games a season, flesh out a solid tandem like he did with Binnington in St. Louis, and give the Habs a chance to put together a winning team.