In need of a netminder, the Montreal Canadiens have worked quickly to find a solution. Veteran Andrew Hammond has been acquired from the Minnesota Wild this morning, the team announced. Going the other way is AHL enforcer Brandon Baddock. Hammond is expected to join the NHL roster in Montreal immediately. Baddock will report to AHL Iowa.
As Sportsnet’s Eric Engels details, Montreal had found themselves in quite the pickle in goal. Presumptive NHL tandem Carey Price and Jake Allen are both sidelined due to injury, as is depth option Michael McNiven and none are especially close to returning. Sam Montembeault has performed admirably as the de facto starter, but he too is not playing at full strength. Meanwhile, current backup Cayden Primeau is floundering, allowing 17 goals in just 174 total minutes in his past five appearances. The Habs wanted to get the young keeper back to the AHL’s Laval Rocket before his NHL struggles started to impact his development, but had no one else to call upon. The team was also greatly limited by both the salary cap and contract cap when it comes to adding someone from the outside.
The solution was a one-for-one swap to bring in the affordable but reliable Hammond, which does not substantially impact the team’s status in regards to roster limits. “The Hamburglar”, 34, has surprisingly not played in an NHL game since 2017-18, though he has dressed as a backup at least once in each of the past three seasons, including earlier this year with Minnesota. At times during his early career, Hammond looked like he was on track to become a long-term NHL contributor, but has settled in to more of a No. 3 role. Yet, his NHL numbers are still somewhat remarkable – 27 wins, a .923 save percentage, and a 2.31 GAA in 56 games. Clearly, there is more to Hammond’s game than just his performance in limited in NHL action, otherwise he would in fact be an NHL regular. His unspectacular AHL numbers speak to that, as does the journeyman nature of his career over the past five years. With that said, a combination of experience, veteran presence, and results, however limited, make him a nice addition for a Montreal team desperate for stability.
The Wild could afford to move on from Hammond with a reliable NHL tandem of veteran Cam Talbot and youngster Kaapo Kahkonen and a large stable of minor league goaltenders, including veteran Zane McIntyre, who has played well for AHL Iowa, and prospects Dereck Baribeau and Hunter Jones. In Baddock, they gain some grit in the organization, which always nice to have at your disposal during the stretch run and postseason. Baddock only has one career NHL game, but has long been a fearsome presence in the AHL as a perennial hits and penalty minutes leader.