Goaltending Controversy Doesn't Exist
David Aebischer beat Edmonton in Montreal’s last game Tuesday and will be in net again Saturday at the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, if there’s any rivalry between him and fellow goaltender Cristobal Huet over who’s #1, they’re doing a good job of hiding it.
This article is exclusive to HTR and TheHabsFan.com.
Guy Carbonneau will probably zero in on one of them to be his go-to guy down the stretch but in the meantime both goalies are being rotated in two-game pairs, and so far it’s been going well for Montreal. That means Huet will start Monday in Ottawa and Wednesday at Tampa.
For now, it seems that both goaltenders are happy with Carbonneau’s schedule. They both also have pretty stellar numbers, although Aebischer started stronger while Huet had a relatively tough start.
“We get along well, our wives get along well, they’re both Swiss,” Aebischer said Friday to the Associated Press. “I mean, we’re teammates. I think it’s much easier and it’s better for the team if the two of us get along than we if couldn’t stand each other.”
“We get along and that makes for a good atmosphere,” said Huet. “We push each other. We try to stay in the net, too. After all it is a competition. But it’s very healthy. And it’s good for the team. I hope David does well when he’s in net and he hopes the same for me.”
Eventually at some point in the season, probably near the trade deadline, the team will be forced to decide between the two. It would be unheard of if they continue to platoon during the playoffs, and if the club is in the playoff hunt (as seems likely), then GM Bob Gainey will be eager to use either as an asset to fill a need. The contracts may play a role, too. Aebischer is an impending UFA, while Huet is already signed for next season at an affordable $2.75M.
A third, but less likely, option may be to simply keep both past the trade deadline and then deal with the chance of Aebischer walking away during the offseason. But if this year’s trade deadline is anything like last year’s, there will be a premium for proven goaltenders, and either one of Montreal’s goalies could be very attractive.
If you consider what other goaltenders have been worth recently on the market (e.g. Dwayne Roloson for a 1st round pick, and Marc Denis for Fredrik Modin), then the Habs may have a very nice problem on their hands.