Florida Panthers: Sam Montembeault’s Demotion was Necessary

Following a rough outing in a home loss versus the Buffalo Sabres, the Florida Panthers sent struggling goalie Samuel Montembeault to the AHL.

To start, Sam Montembeault is still only 23-years-old and an unproven netminder at the NHL level. After a solid training camp, the Florida Panthers decided to retain “Monty” as the primary backup to Sergei Bobrovsky entering the 2019-20 season.

However, Montembeault has only received occasional starts, typically on back-to-back games for the Cats. By playing roughly 3-4 NHL games per month, the Cats aren’t allowing Montembeault to properly develop into a stout NHL caliber goaltender.

Therefore, by starting on a week by week basis, the young goalie has unsurprisingly struggled to produce when called upon. In fact, Monty produced a subpar 3.31GAA as well as a .889 SV% in seven games played. The lack of playing time has truly hindered Monty’s development, hence a demotion to the AHL was highly necessary.

Currently, with Chris Driedger now serving as the backup to Bobrovsky, Sam Montembeault is being given the opportunity to start on a game by game basis for the struggling Springfield Thunderbirds. Recently, Monty has started 2 games for the Thunderbirds, recording a .921 SV% and a 3.04 GAA.

The former third-round draft selection from the 2015 NHL Entry Level Draft must start regularly in order to develop properly and effectively. With the current struggles of Sergei Bobrovsky and Sam Montembeault at the NHL level, the team is now relying upon former Thunderbirds starting netminder Chris Driedger.

In a Saturday night home-ice victory versus the potent Nashville Predators, Driedger earned himself a shutout win in his first career start with the Florida Panthers.

The former third-round draft selection from the 2012 NHL Entry Level Draft by the Ottawa Senators stopped all 27 shots faced, making history as the first Panthers goalie to record a shutout in his first career start.

In fact, Driedger has earned the opportunity over Montembeault to be the current backup to Sergei Bobrovsky, based on past performance at the AHL level. During the 2018-19 AHL season, Driedger recorded a solid 2.45 GAA as well as a .924 SV% in 32 games.

The 2019-20 hockey season has proved to be a breakout campaign for Driedger with the Springfield Thunderbirds. While playing in 14 AHL games, Driedger registered an impressive 2.09 GAA as well as a .938 SV%. In essence, Driedger’s recent success at the AHL level has rightfully earned him a chance to showcase his skills in the NHL for the Panthers.

Ultimately, the Sam Montembeault demotion is still deemed as highly necessary for several reasons. Mainly, Monty will possess the opportunity to develop by starting games on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis.

Moreover, by receiving a majority of the starts for Springfield, Monty can rebuild his confidence by dominating in the AHL – a league he’s shown comfort in. As well, the demotion enables Driedger to step in for the struggling Bobrovsky for the time being.

Realistically, while the AHL demotion for Sam Montembeault might be seen as a setback, Monty should interpret the demotion as simply a minor setback for a major comeback. This AHL stint will allow Montembeault to rediscover his game and acquire more experience as a starting goalie in a relatively difficult, yet competitive league.

Soon enough, Monty will return to the Florida Panthers squad as a rejuvenated individual. When Monty’s temporary AHL stint concludes, he should be considered “ready” for the National Hockey League, serving as the chief backup to former 2x Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.