February 9, 2011

Isles Lose Poulin for Season, Acquire Montoya

"It's bad luck for Ricky but I think it's a great opportunity for me and I'm just looking forward to playing some games." -Kevin Poulin on February 4th

I wasn't all that hopeful that the results of Kevin Poulin's MRI would come back with good news. When the injury happened, it looked pretty bad immediately. As it turns out, it's just as bad as many expected.

For the 2nd time, Kevin Poulin has dislocated his left knee cap. Just like the other time in juniors, this one too will require surgery. Poulin will be out for the remainder of the season.

Despite the Isles wanting to send the goalie down to be the everyday starter at the AHL level, Poulin played better and better each night and was working on cutting down on some of his extra movements, which seemed to be what one of his weaknesses were.

As you can see from the quote above, Poulin knew this was his chance to show what he can do as a 20 year old against NHLers. He was always a guy who had a lot of promise, even though he fell to the 5th round in 2008, ironically mainly due to injury and inconsistency.

That chance ended when Poulin's skate got caught in a rut on the infamous Coliseum ice, causing the goalie to immediately crumble to the ice. It was a site that made many fans all around the world bury their head in their hands.

For a while, it appeared as though it suddenly became Mikko Koskinen's turn to show his stuff. After being named the starter to replace Poulin against the Maple Leafs, he promptly gave up two goals on the first two NHL shots he saw. Koskinen would settle down a bit, and didn't receive a heck of a lot of support from his teammates, who appeared to look rather deflated at times due to Poulin going down.

During the game, Garth Snow began to make some calls around the league, looking for a team that had a 3rd string goalie that he could get on the cheap.

Wednesday saw a lot of action as far as transactions in the NHL. After the Leafs dealt away defenseman Francois Beauchemin, goalie Jonas Gustavsson was pulled from his start in the AHL. For a few hours, people wondered what was going on there and tried to connect the dots, wondering if this was the 3rd string veteran that Snow was targeting. Since James Reimer has come up and looked really good for the Leafs, both J.S. Giguere and Gustavsson have lost starts.

But word came down that Gustavsson actually was having problems with his heart rate again and as a result, was removed from the game. So the search for a new goalie went on.

On our Twitter account, I posted that I felt Snow was going to add a goalie of the Martin Gerber or Curtis Sanford variety. Both of these guys actually fit the bill for what he was looking for.

Needless to say, many were a bit surprised when the news hit the wire about the Isles trading a 6th rounder this summer to the Phoenix Coyotes in return for Al Montoya.

Montoya, better known by Isles fans as the last goalie to get into a fight with Rick DiPietro prior to Brent Johnson, was the 6th overall pick by the New York Rangers in the 2004 draft. Thing's haven't worked out for Montoya though, now 25. To date he has played all of five games in the NHL, all with the Coyotes.

Montoya was struggling this season in San Antonio of the AHL, but overall has compiled a 96-72-7 record since joining the league in 05-06. His overall numbers haven't been horrible, but this season is obviously one of his worst ones yet.

Since Montoya still is fairly young, I'm assuming Snow saw the potential for something here. I don't think there is anything else potential wise there, but stranger things have happened. For Montoya, he gets a chance to finally be an NHL goalie for 28 games. If he plays well he gets noticed, if not by the Isles then by some other team. If not, then he'll still be talented enough to be an AHL guy, maybe even for the Isles.

It is assumed that with Nathan Lawson really close to returning, Koskinen and Joel Martin will head back down to Bridgeport while Montoya and Lawson handle the nets up with the Isles for the balance of the season.

Montoya will go to Bridgeport, but join the Isles when they return home from Montreal. He may even start against the Penguins on Friday.

Let's just hope that he doesn't get hurt now.




Chris Dixon said...

How many of Montoya's games have you scouted to say "you don't see potential"? I'm no fan of Montoya, but that's because I've never seen him. When you get your scout hat from an NHL team, then you get to say things like this. Riding young guys like this does more to kill their confidence more than anything else. Please consider your comments.

Chris Hessel said...

Chris, Thanks for the comment. You bring up an excellent point. I am not a professional scout (though at times I wish I were!). The only thing I am going on is when I watched Montoya in his final year at Michigan, which was during the NHL lock out. He didn't have one of his better years then, and I was a little unimpressed. I'll admit that I haven't watched much of him at the pro level and you can't tell everything by stats, but I do think it is worth nothing that some of his #'s were very respectable when you consider he has played for teams that had defense as a weak spot. There are many goalies that toil around for a bit before finally breaking through (ex. Jaroslav Halak at 24, almost at 25). I just made an assessment on what I saw once upon a time, which isn't completely fair but all I have to go on. I'm hoping he proves me wrong and gives us something to think about next season, for either a back-up spot or a spot in the Bridge.