MONTREAL — 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.”
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.”
The move creates cap space for the Blues as they try to re-sign pending free agent defenceman Alex Pietrangelo. The one year remaining on Allen’s contract carries a cap hit of US$4.35 million.
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 Canadiens 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.
“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.
The Blues played Allen in their only two victories in Edmonton, but 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.
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.”
— With files from The Associated Press.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2020.
The Canadian Press