Canadiens bolster goaltending by acquiring Jake Allen from Blues for picks

Jake Allen says he’s ready to ease Carey Price’s workload in Montreal and get to know the Canadiens star goaltender.

The Canadiens acquired Allen and a seventh-round draft pick from the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday for a pick in the third and seventh rounds.

Allen was the Blues’ starter for several seasons, but Jordan Binnington supplanted the Fredericton native en route to a Stanley Cup title in 2019. Allen appeared in one post-season game that year.

Price averages close to 60 games per season, plus playoffs, when healthy.

The Habs get an experienced backup in Allen who can take the reins if the 31-year-old Price is injured or simply needs a breather.

“The role that I’ll be playing is obviously behind one of the best goalies in the world, a guy whose been a dominant force in the league,” Allen said Wednesday on a media conference call.

“I feel I played that role last year very well behind Binnington. I thought I had a solid season. I can bring … quite a few years in the league and a lot of experience in different situations.

“I feel like I can come into this spot, give Carey breaks when he needs them and play well for the team.”

Similar interests

Keith Kincaid, 31, made only five starts behind Price earlier this season before he was waived last December and the Canadiens promoted 20-year-old prospect Cayden Primeau. Charlie Lindgren, 26, made six starts after appearing in 18 games for Montreal over the previous four seasons.

Allen doesn’t know the 2015 winner of the Hart and Vezina trophies personally, although he’s heard he and Price have in common an affinity for country music and the outdoors.

“Hopefully get off on a good foot. I’m sure we will,” Allen said. “I think we have similar interests as well on and off the ice.

“I love to fish and hunt and stuff. That’s the sort of the things I’m into and from all accounts that’s sort of up his alley as well.”

His trade to Montreal is a homecoming of sorts for Allen, who played two seasons for the QMJHL’s Montreal Juniors in 2008 and 2009.

“It’s funny how it’s come full circle now, playing for the Montreal Junior in Verdun and playing in the NHL against the Canadians at the Bell Centre,” Allen said.

“It’s wild how it’s all sort of reinvented itself, but I’ve had a few experiences in the building and lived in the city for a couple years.

Shone during NHL restart

“It’s a place that I’m more familiar with than most others in the league. I think that’s going to definitely give me a sense of comfort.”

St. Louis took Allen in the second round (34th overall) of the 2008 draft. His record in seven seasons there was 148-94-26 with a goals-against average of 2.50 and a .913 save percentage.

The 30-year-old went 12-6-3 in a 2019-20 regular season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen’s GAA was 2.14 and his save percentage .927.

He went 2-1-1 in the NHL’s restart with a 1.89 GAA and a .935 save percentage.

Watching the Canadiens in the playoffs this year from afar, it looks like a real force to be reckoned with here in the next couple years.— Goalie Jake Allen on being traded to Montreal

The Blues played Allen in their only two victories in Edmonton, but head coach Craig Berube returned to Binnington when facing elimination.

Dealing Allen makes the 27-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., the clear No. 1 in St. Louis, although Binnington struggled in the playoffs.

Montreal was the 24th and final seed heading into the NHL’s qualifying round to re-start the season. Price was a standout in an upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance.

Extra cap space to re-sign Pietrangelo

The Habs bowed out in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.

“Watching the Canadiens in the playoffs this year from afar, it looks like a real force to be reckoned with here in the next couple years,” Allen said.

“It’s really exciting joining a group like that that’s on its way up with a lot of key veteran pieces as well.”

Moving Allen clears valuable salary cap space for the Blues to try to keep their Stanley Cup-winning captain.

Getting the goalie’s $4.35 million US cap hit off the books is more significant because it increases the chances of re-signing pending free-agent defenceman Alex Pietrangelo.

The 30-year-old Pietrangelo who lifted the Cup in Boston last year after St. Louis won its first title in franchise history was expected to be among the top players available when free agency opens in October. Pietrangelo has said he wants to stay with the Blues.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will likely have to make at least one more trade to fit Pietrangelo under the $81.5 million ceiling, though it’s now a more reasonable proposition.

Allen, 30, gets a fresh start as a clear backup to Montreal starter Carey Price. While the Canadiens have wavered year to year on their backup situation, Price playing a league-high 58 games this season was enough to prompt a change.

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