Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #5 Samuel Montembeault

QMJHL netminder could be Florida’s number three option soon

The Panthers have high expectations for this young goaltender, and to date, he has not disappointed. Samuel Montembeault comes in at #5 on our list.

#5 - Samuel Montembeault - Goaltender - Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)

Highest Ranking: 5  Lowest Ranking: 6

The Panthers drafted this 6’-3”, 166 lb. goaltender in the 3rd round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (77th overall) after he put up very solid numbers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was selected for the CHL Top Prospects game. That season he played 52 games and posted a 2.59 GAA and .891 SV % (which is respectable for the the “Q”). The 19 year-old Montembeault followed that effort with a 2.63 GAA and .901 SV % in 47 games in 2015-16, behind a team that was rebuilding. That effort led to his selection for the QMJHL All-Star team, in their series against Team Russia. More importantly, he was also selected for the Canadian World Junior Team last season- although he was the team’s 3rd goalie and did not play.

Montembeault’s showing in the “Q” last season led Hockey’s Future to list him as the Panthers most improved prospect. Things continue to move in the right direction for Montembeault.

In May, the Panthers signed the young goalie to an entry-level contract, and he is eligible to play in Springfield this year if the team wants. That decision may not come until training camp, although it seems to be a crowded field of signed goalies for a Thunderbirds team that will carry only two. Remember that Sam Brittain, Colin Stevens, Reto Berra, and Mike McKenna are all signed for next season. Thus, Montembeault could be returned to Blainville-Boisbriand for an overage season.

The scouting report (from Hockey’s Future) on Montembeault is somewhat typical of a goalie with his build and age:

Montembeault is in the mould of the new age of goaltenders – tall, lanky and athletic. Still learning the position, the agile netminder is fluid in his movement between the pipes, but can be caught napping occasionally on shots directed toward his glove hand. He also needs to improve his angles in the net, but, at this point, he has starting goaltender potential at the NHL level.

We have said it here at LBC (parroting the scouting experts), but goalies can be very difficult to project as prospects. Yet, if there is one thing that stands-out with this goalie, its that he was selected by the Canadian World Junior team, Identifying him as one of Canada’s three-best goalies at the U-20 age group. Yes, that’s a big deal. Dobber Prospects adds to the excitement with their scouting report:

Montembeault has been said by some to be the best goaltender in the 2015 draft class, and has starting NHL goalie potential.

He continues to be noted for an excellent glove hand, and that was on display at Development Camp this summer. Montembeault was raised by a baseball crazy family in Quebec, and all the baseball he played as a youngster and with his family paid big dividends in front of a hockey net. Panthers goalie Coach Robb Tallas to Harvey Fiakov:

"He's incredibly strong at catching pucks across his body and once he does that he controls the play," Tallas said. "He can keep the puck moving or take a whistle."

Putting aside his unfortunate following of the Boston Red Sox, Monty is a very likable, very calm young man. He understands that there is a logjam in front of him and that he will have to work hard to jump over others in the development line to make the Panthers one-day. Rather than take that as a negative, Monty has stated his determination to work harder and overtake those ahead of him. He has worked extensively on his puck handling skills, and that was also on full display at Development Camp.

There is no doubt that Montembeault is seen by the franchise as the “goalie-of-the-future.” With Roberto Luongo and James Reimer both signed long term, there will be no rush to get him to the NHL, and that’s good news. Goalies must be given time to develop, and typically develop later than position players. There is every indication that Montembeault will be given that time. At camp, the goalie coaches spent a great deal of time working on his mechanics. Every move is broken down with video on an IPad and reviewed with the goalie. Expect that to continue for at least the next two seasons, and that is only going to make this athletic young goalie that much better. The work seemed to pay off as Montembeault stopped all eight shots he faced in Florida’s rookie tournament-opening win over Nashville.....its a start!