Oct 1, 2011

Season Preview: Al Montoya

Al Montoya

Position: Goaltender
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 194 lbs
Birthdate: February 13th, 1985 (26 years old)
Birthplace: Glenview, IL, US
Acquired: Trade with Phoenix, 2011

2010-2011 Teams: San Antonio Rampage/New York Islanders
2010-2011 Stats (SAR): 21 GP - 3.19 GAA - .921 SV PCT
2010-2011 Stats (NYI): 21 GP - 2.39 GAA - .921 SV PCT
2011-2012 Team: New York Islanders
Team Role: Unknown as of current moment, rotating with 3 goalies

Last year: After being an afterthought to most teams even after being a 6th overall pick just a few years back, Montoya was acquired by the Islanders after the injuries to Nathan Lawson, Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin. While in his first game against Buffalo as relief for Mikko Koskinen he did not perform exceptionally at all, Montoya picked it up substantially and became a total rock in net for the Islanders, exceeding every expectation that could have possibly be placed on him. He put up a very respectable 2.39 GAA in only 21 games and a spectacular .921 save percentage, something any goalie, even one who only played 21 games, should be very proud of. Montoya was never a flashy goalie but he stood on his head for the Islanders with such a depleted offense and really helped this team maintain some of it's pride down the stretch going into the end of the season.

Expectations: While most figured that Montoya would be the #1 to start this year, Rick DiPietro's seemingly healthy return and Evgeni Nabokov's decision to report to camp have sent Montoya's whirlwind career into yet another period of uncertainty. While of the three, Montoya has performed the best and stayed the healthiest, it would be unsurprising to see Montoya be the odd man out of the lineup and even possibly traded. However, assuming he stays with the Isles and plays a decent amount of games, we should be seeing somewhat similar numbers to last year. He's coming off a somewhat routine knee surgery, so that may or may not impact him this season as well. With a bolstered defense with the return of Mark Streit, Montoya should have an easier time.

Projections: 35 GP - 22 W - 13 L - 2.45 GAA - .925 SV PCT


AT: Montoya was quite a pleasant surprise last season, and really had a great story after being pushed out of the Rangers vision when Lundqvist performed exceptionally and being perennially thrown in the AHL by the Coyotes, even after performing at a spectacular level when he was in the NHL. He's still young, and as Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas would tell you, sometimes you don't get your starting role as a goaltender until you're in your late 20's. There's still plenty of time for Montoya to become a true #1 for any team, be it the Islanders or any other. We saw his abilities last year and there's certainly a possibility with DiPietro's injuries and Nabokov's uncertainty. Whatever happens, the Islanders have a very nice problem to have on their hands.

CH: No one really expected Montoya to give the team what he did last season, especially after his professional history to date. However, Snow clearly recognized something in his game and acquired him for a very low price. Now that Montoya is signed on for another year, he has the opportunity to solidify himself as a bona fide NHL goaltender. Even with a three goalie rotation, Montoya should get plenty of opportunity to play, but he'll need to maintain the high level he provided last year to get more playing time. That's exactly the competition the Isles will need to be successful, even though a three goalie rotation is nowhere near ideal. This is a huge year for Montoya to prove that he is a legitimate starter in the lead, and after experiencing a lot of letdowns early in his career, I don't expect him to let this opportunity pass him by.

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