Jets sign backup goalie Montoya
PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
|The Jets signed goaltender Al Montoya to a one-year contract Wednesday. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images/AFP file photo)
WINNIPEG - Al Montoya, meet Evander Kane. Again.
The backup New York Islanders goaltender, run over and concussed by the Winnipeg Jets winger in a game last season, look to be teammates next season, after the Jets signed Montoya to be their No. 2 goalie.
“I don’t even remember it,” Montoya joked about the hit during a conference call with reporters, Wednesday. “Just kidding. It’s part of hockey. He’s a phenomenal player. I’m glad to have him on my team.”
While multi-million dollar negotiations with Kane, a restricted free agent, continue, the Jets dipped into the bargain bin for Montoya, who comes with a reported price tag of $601,000 for one season, just slightly above the NHL minimum.
That’s a far cry from his expectations when he was drafted sixth overall by the Rangers in 2004.
“When I was a young guy, seven or eight years ago, I thought it would be an easy route,” Montoya said. “It’s a learning curve. It would have been easy to quit. There was a reason I was drafted sixth overall. It’s just a matter of showing it.”
The 27-year-old isn’t likely to get much chance to show it in Winnipeg, as the Jets rode starter Ondrej Pavelec hard last season and recently signed him to a new five-year deal.
“Ondrej is a phenomenal goalie,” Montoya said, under no illusions about his role. “I’m here as a backup ... whenever Ondrej can’t play for whatever the reason is, if it’s 20-30 games, less or more, for me it’s about being ready to win.”
A Chicago native, Montoya played 31 games with the Islanders last season, posting a 9-11-5 record, 3.11 goals against average and .893 save percentage.
Saying he had other options, he spoke at length with Jets goalie coach Wade Flaherty Tuesday, before making his decision.
Montoya’s career NHL numbers include just 57 games with the Islanders and Phoenix, a 21-17-10 record and 2.76 GAA.
He replaces Chris Mason, who left Winnipeg for Nashville.