NHL

Ralph: Montoya as backup gives Jets youth in the crease

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Rick Ralph
7/4/2012 7:57:54 PM
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The Winnipeg Jets decided to go younger when it came to a backup goaltender. After last year's backup Chris Mason bolted for Nashville, 27-year-old Al Montoya has agreed to a one-year, $601,000 contract with the Jets - exactly what he made last year with the New York Islanders. The average age of remaining free agent goaltenders is nearly 33 years.

Montoya's numbers from last season aren't earth shattering, but respectable. He had a 9-11-5 record with a goals against average of 3.11 and a save percentage of .893. His numbers from the year before are better, 9-5-5, 2.39 and .921.

Career-wise, albeit in 57 games, he retains a 2.76 goals against average and a save percentage of .906. Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, a former Islander, did the leg work here. He called a number of the candidates for interviews and determined Montoya would be a good fit.

Montoya says he's looking forward to the crowd support, which has been lacking on Long Island. Montoya, oddly enough, gives the Jets the 4th, 5th and 6th round draft picks from the 2004 NHL draft. Captain Andrew Ladd was selected fourth overall by Carolina, followed by Phoenix's Blake Wheeler fifth and the New York Rangers, who selected Montoya with the sixth overall pick.

With Ondrej Pavelec playing 68 games last season, Montoya may not see a lot of action. However, Montoya could be the support needed this coming season to see Pavelec pull back a bit on the regular season, to save himself for, dare I say, the playoffs? Montoya says he is coming to Winnipeg to be a backup, and contribute.

Al Montoya (Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
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