The portrait of Montreal Canadiens goaltenders in 2022-23 continues to crystallize. On Thursday morning, they announced they had signed restricted free agent Cayden Primeau to a one-way, three-year deal. The deal will earn him an AAV of $890,000 whether he plays in the NHL or the AHL.
Primeau, 23, is the son of former NHL center Keith Primeau. The Habs picked Primeau in the seventh round of the 2017 draft, 199e overall, but it didn’t take long for him to rise up the ranks of organizational hopefuls and earn « keeper of the future » status. He excelled at Northeastern University, winning the Mike Richter Award as NCAA Goalie of the Year for 2018-19, and represented Team USA at the 2019 World Junior Championship.
Primeau turned pro in 2019-20 and split his time between the Habs and its AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket. Primeau holds a .908 save percentage in 82 career AHL appearances, but has mostly struggled during his brief NHL tenure, compiling a .874 SV percentage in 18 NHL appearances. Still, the potential of Primeau, who brings great length at 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, is undeniable. He was an AHL All-Star in 2021-22 and excelled in the playoffs, compiling a .936 SV% in 14 appearances.
Primeau’s role as the Canadiens’ No. 3 goaltender is particularly important at the start of the season. With Carey Price heading to the LTIR due to chronic knee complications and a long way from playing in the league again, Montreal will rely on Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault as their NHL tandem for the time being, allowing Primeau to compile reps as a starter in the AHL. In the event of a trade or injury for Allen or Montembeault, Primeau could have an extended look in the NHL. His deal is one-sided, but he will remain exempt from a waiver for the first of 56 games or one more season. according to CapFriendly.