Earlier today, the New York Islanders announced the re-signing of their current starting goalie Al Montoya to a one-year contract. While at this point the two sides have only agreed to terms, the deal is likely somewhere near Montoya’s current $.750 million salary.
As a restricted free agent, the Isles lock up a player that brought them back to respectability after Rick DiPietro and Dwayne Roloson failed to win a game for over a month. Now they have a viable, young option should DiPietro falter, or remain unable to start back-to-back games for that matter (as he has done, or not done, plenty of times this year).
Drafted sixth overall back in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Montoya never met his lofty expectations — never playing a single game for the team that drafted him in the New York Rangers. Stuck behind Henrik Lundqvist, Montoya was eventually shipped to Phoenix where he received a brief audition in 2008-2009 and posted eerily similar numbers to his current peripherals. However, the Coyotes felt more comfortable using veteran backup Jason LaBarbera and therefore kept Montoya down in the AHL.
Clearly Montoya had the talent but certainly lacked motivation in the A, where he battled injuries and other minor leaguers like Matt Climie, Josh Tordjman and Justin Pogge.
Enter the Islanders, who needed a somewhat capable netminder in the worst way. After trading away Roloson, the team used a rotation of DiPietro, Nathan Lawson, Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen before stealing Montoya away from the Coyotes for a late-round pick. Back in the NHL, he regained his confidence and motivation begging the question: What took so long?
By re-signing him for next season, the Isles can afford to keep Poulin and Koskinen in the AHL while evaluation their situation with the big club. As an inexpensive option, Montoya could take the reigns from DiPietro next season as the latter has not proven himself healthy since 2008.
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