The Florida Panthers selected goaltender Sam Montembeault in the third round (77th overall) of the 2015 Entry Draft held here at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, after he appeared in 52 games for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during his second QMJHL season. Montembeault posted a stellar 33-11-7 record with a 2.59 GAA, .891 save percentage and three shutouts. He started all six games in Blainville-Boisbriand’s opening round playoff loss to the Gatineau Olympiques.
He went on to play two more years with the Armada, posting a stingy 2.40 GAA in his final campaign in the ‘Q’ before beginning his professional career with the Springfield Thunderbirds, where he made 41 appearances as an AHL rookie and went 13-23-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .896 save percentage.
Montembeault’s numbers in his second season with Springfield were very much in line with the season prior. A late season call-up to the Panthers was much more encouraging. He dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Carolina Hurricanes in his NHL debut on March 2, before backstopping the Cats to wins over Minnesota, Detroit, San Jose and Los Angeles. While he went 0-3-1 over his final six appearances, he played well in three of the games, including a 35-save effort in his final start of the campaign, a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.
This season, Montembeault started as the backup to high-priced veteran acquisition Sergei Bobrovsky, and after some rough outings, found himself back in Springfield in late November. He was replaced by the more experienced Chris Driedger, who excelled in the role. Montembeault returned to the Panthers in early February, and after mopping up in an embarrassing loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, he started and beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 five days later. After replacing Bobrovsky again in a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Montembeault started three more games and played pretty well despite losing all three decisions. He finished with a 5-5-1 record, 3.34 GAA and .890 save percentage for the Panthers and went an identical 5-5-1 with the Thunderbirds, posting a 3.00 GAA and an .918 save percentage.
Montembeault has all the tools needed to be an NHL backup or starter, he just hasn’t gotten the top-level experience needed to grow into either job. With Bobrovsky’s massive contract and the emergence of Dreidger (not to mention 2019 first-round Spencer Knight), his path to long-term employment in Sunrise seems to be blocked and he looks ticketed to return to the AHL whenever the next regular season starts. A pending restricted free-agent, look for the Panthers to re-sign Montembeault to be the American league starter and if he has a good season,a potential piece to dangle for Seattle in the 2021 Expansion Draft.
What does the future hold for Montembeault?
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NHL #3 / AHL #1
Strictly minor-league fodder