Al Montoya

In the last 10 days, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames made trades to their goaltending. On December 30, the Flames traded goaltender Eddie Lack to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Dalton Prout and on January 4, the Edmonton Oilers acquired goaltender Al Montoya from the Montreal Canadiens for a conditional fourth round pick in the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

The condition is regarding how many games Montoya plays this season. If he plays seven games, the Oilers will send the Canadiens their fourth round pick. If it is less than seven games, the Oilers will send the Canadiens their fifth round pick.

In the grand scheme of things, these trades were pretty minor, but significant in the sense that in today’s National Hockey League, you don’t see many trades or transactions happen outside three key periods of the calendar—the NHL Trade Deadline, the NHL Entry Draft or the period around July 1 when free agents are available (better known as Free Agent Frenzy).

The Flames traded Lack to the Devils because it seems they are more comfortable with David Rittich in backing up Mike Smith than Eddie Lack. Rittich is 3-1-1 with a 2.04 goals against average and .924 save percentage. Lack played poorly in his short stint in Calgary. He was 1-2 in four games with a poor goals against average of 5.29 and a save percentage of .813. Lack only played a full game once with the Flames—in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on October 25.

Rittich meanwhile was stellar in his NHL debut—a 3-2 Flames win over the Colorado Avalanche on November 25. He followed that with impressive wins over the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks in December.

The Oilers meanwhile acquired Montoya in a move they should have made a month ago. Consider it a late move for general manager Peter Chiarelli. The Oilers should have pulled the trigger when Cam Talbot was hurt during the month of December. Laurent Brossoit played terrible in Talbot’s absence, even in a game the Oilers won, and it came as no surprise that the Oilers placed him on waivers.

Montoya is an experienced backup. Now it will be interesting to see how long it will take Chiarelli to make other deals, because the 2017-18 season is a lost cause for the hockey club.