With absolutely dominating home-ice victories against the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild, the Florida Panthers should certainly continue providing rookie netminder Sam Montembeault with more starts in between the pipes.
The 22-year-old native of Quebec was selected with the 77th overall draft pick (third round) by the Florida Panthers in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Montembeault registered adequate numbers in his four-year career when he played in the QMJHL for Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Following a successful career in juniors, Sam Montembeault began the 2017-18 pro-hockey season playing for the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers).
Sam evidently struggled in terms of adapting toward the AHL style of play. In 41 AHL contests, Montembeault recorded a pedestrian line of 3.25 GAA and .896 SV%.
In essence, Monty’s first season of professional hockey wasn’t considered a major success, but he gained valuable experience as a 21-year-old goalie.
The 2018-19 season has been an absolute success thus far for Monty. In 37 AHL games, the Quebec native recorded an improved line of 3.16 GAA and .901 SV% for the playoff-contending Thunderbirds.
Montembeault’s efforts in the American Hockey League evidently didn’t go unnoticed, as he earned himself a well-deserved selection to the 2019 AHL All-Star Game (held in Springfield).
Monty displayed apparent signs of maturity and growth in net for the T-Birds, which has resulted in a starting job for the Florida Panthers.
Despite the small NHL sample size, Sam Montembeault has played exceptionally well, notching a 2-0-1 record, 2.32 GAA, and .904 SV% in three NHL contests.
With James Reimer fully recovered from injury and a currently healthy Roberto Luongo, head coach Bob Boughner has decided that the team will ultimately carry all three goaltenders on the roster for the remainder of the season.
Essentially, Sam Montembeault will certainly receive numerous opportunities for the rest of the way, and a chance of making a crucial impression on Panthers management and coaching staff.
With only 14 games remaining, the odds of the Panthers clinching a playoff berth are incredibly slim and unlikely, quite frankly.
Therefore, it’s imperative that Sam Montembeault receives more starts as a means of gaining more NHL experience and potentially taking over as the team’s starting netminder in the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, if Montembeault continues impressing, then the Florida Panthers can avoid offering impending unrestricted free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky a lucrative contract.
In addition, the Cats could simply explore a potential trade involving James Reimer in the offseason, so Montembeault could become either the primary backup or the starter for the 2019-20 NHL campaign.
Moreover, the Panthers have truly played remarkably well as a collective team in all three of Montembeault’s starts, picking up five of the possible six points.
Evidently, Monty’s outstanding play has reinvigorated the Panthers, bringing a much-needed spark for a noticeably deflated, uninspired team.
Also, the fans have been enticed into attending and watching games as a means of expressing their support and gratitude towards the young netminder.
The Panthers drew decently sized crowds in Montembeault’s starts against the Minnesota Wild and the Detroit Red Wings, indicating how Panther fans are interested in watching Monty perform.
The crowd has also created a unique “Monty, Monty, Monty…” chant for whenever Sam Montembeault makes a phenomenal save.
Ultimately, the Cats must undoubtedly provide Sam Montembeault with the majority of the starts in goal for the remainder of the 2019 campaign.
Quite frankly, it seems as if the Florida Panthers have struck gold with their draft selection of Montembeault from four years ago.
If Monty continues developing and performing exceedingly well, then the Florida Panthers have indubitably resolved their goaltending issues for the present and the future.