There's no question that the Montreal Canadiens are in rebuild mode at the moment. For the team to even compete for a playoff spot in 2022-23 would be surprising, and certainly an overachievement if it happened. Habs Vice President Jeff Gorton, GM Kent Hughes, and head coach Martin St. Louis are aware of that, and St. Louis has explained to reporters why he believes the recent extension for goaltender Jake Allen
is not just important for the team, but somewhat of a sacrifice for Allen himself.
With Allen's new two-year deal officially signed, he has committed to Montreal for the next three seasons (the new contract doesn't kick in until after 2022-23). He'll be 35 when he becomes a free agent again, on the last legs of his career if he decides to continue at all. So why sign a deal with a team in rebuild mode?
"I read this quote the other day and it really resonated with me," said St. Louis. "You need guys that are willing to plant trees knowing they'll never sit in the shade. You need guys like that. And Jake is that."
St. Louis is essentially saying that Allen believes in Montreal's long-term vision, but chances are he won't be around when the Canadiens move from rebuild mode to building around the core they have. In the meantime, Allen can serve as an excellent mentor to someone like Cayden Primeau
, a fellow netminder drafted by Montreal in 2017. Given the likelihood that Carey Price
never plays again, developing a goalie has to be high on the team's list of priorities. Putting that netminder in the spotlight on a team that's in the very beginning stages of trying to put together a new identity could be a disaster for everyone involved.