Al Montoya Extended With One-Year Contract
Many were left to wonder what Garth Snow would do before the start of next season for the Islanders back-up goalie position with Dwayne Roloson traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Rick DiPietro's health constantly in limbo. Rookies Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen got their opportunities to show what they could do for the organization, but injuries and needed development were enough signs to show that Snow needed to make a move. That move came when he acquired Al Montoya from the Phoenix Coyotes for a draft pick.
Montoya immediately stepped in and at first seemed shaky in net, having to play midway through a game without getting a real start from the opening puck drop. But in almost no time, Montoya became the team's best player on the ice and has done enough to earn himself a one-year contract extension for next season.
Montoya has posted an 8-4-4 record with a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage in 17 games played with the Islanders this season. Originally drafted by the New York Rangers with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Montoya never really received an opportunity to develop with an NHL team. The Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist, who will obviously be the team's number one goalie for many years to come. The Coyotes have Ilya Bryzgalov, who at the time was starting to emerge as one of the best keepers in the Western Conference. But they say that your third time is a charm as the Isles have become the first team he has been able to call home despite being a top-ten draft pick.
There is a good chance that Montoya will get plenty of playing time next year since DiPietro did not come anywhere close to playing half of an NHL season. Whether it be due to injuries or required maintenance by sitting on the bench, Montoya will likely get his fair share of games in DiPietro's absence. And I'll even go a step further...don't be surprised if this guy manages to steal the show from DiPietro as next season continues on.
In other news...
Big things are happening here at The Checking Line as George Prax and myself have begun assembling a New York Islanders blogging team. Evan Pivnick and Daniel Friedman are two new bloggers that will be added to the site that will provide pre-game and post-game blogs as well as additional content with the season winding down. Here is a quick look at two of TCL's newest bloggers:
"I'm 17 years old, and I've been an Islanders fan since I was 4 years old. Over the years, I developed a love for sports broadcasting and sports journalism. Probably because my father used to be an announcer for Minor League Baseball and my godfather is currently the beat writer for the New York Giants in the NY Post. They both were a great influence on me. After years and years of attending Islanders games, I finally developed my own website in the summer of 2010. I wrote so many articles about the Islanders' games and current events in Islanders Country. But then my website crashed and I lost everything on it. So, that's what brings me here. I'm a die hard fan of the team that's closest to my home and my heart. The New York Islanders."
"I've been an Islander fan for 15 years, been playing hockey since I was seven years old. I also write for Bleacher Report and The Hockey Writers. I'm likely the most optimistic (maybe too optimistic at times) Islander fan you'll ever meet. You will never see me give up on this team, no matter what happens."
Please give them a warm welcome and check out their blogs that will be posted Wednesday and be sure to follow their twitter feeds @EvanPivnickNYI and @dfriedman_isles.
Also, there will be a live blog covering the Islanders/Rangers game this Thursday night at 7PM. Make sure you stop back here at The Checking Line to join in on the chat!
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