Al Montoya, G Height: 6'2; Weight: 193 Acquired: First round, 6th overall, 2004
This is Montoya's third year as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack, and after two solid, albeit injury-shortened, professional years, there were high expectations that he would be NHL-ready some time this season. Unfortunately, Montoya's play has been very inconsistent over the past several months, and at this point, his fellow Hartford netminder, Miika Wiikman, is playing the majority of the games.
In preseason, Montoya remained with the NHL club for a long stretch, seeing action in net and experiencing his first NHL fight. However, it became clear that Montoya's development would be best served by the steady playing time with the Rangers' AHL affiliate, and he began the season with the Wolf Pack. The former first-round selection was inconsistent during the first two months of the season--sometimes playing at a very high level between the pipes and at other times, playing a lackluster game at best. Then in December, it appeared that he had hit his stride. With the exception of one mid-month horrendous game, Montoya had a terrific month. He recorded a 1.95 GAA and a .932 save percentage in eight games. Just as quickly, in January, the wheels fell off, and with Wiikman playing at a very high level over the past six weeks, Montoya has mostly been relegated to a backup role.
According to Hartford Wolf Pack Head Coach Ken Gernander, Rangers' goaltending coach Benoit Allaire has worked with Montoya several times over the last few weeks. Allaire has "given us drills to work on with Monty--so that when he does get his opportunities, he is seeing the puck, his footwork is there, and he is strong and focused." It remains to be seen whether Montoya can show the consistency that is needed to become a No. 1 netminder in the NHL. There is no question that goaltenders take longer to develop, however, it has to be a disappointment that he has not shown more consistent play this season.
...with the Rangers resigning Lundqvist this really isn't a big deal as far as the future goaltending position of the Rangers. However, Montoya's trade value is plummeting and their ability to use him to bring in a puck moving defenseman or scoring winger is diminishing.
...who knew Valiquette would be a better goalie than Montoya?