THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL — Goaltender Cristobal Huet is headed to Washington looking to help another young team make it to the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens dealt the 32-year-old to the Capitals on Tuesday for a second-round pick in the 2009 draft.
The move handed the starting reins in Montreal to rookie Carey Price, who has been hot and cold this season. Jaroslav Halak was recalled from AHL Hamilton to serve as backup.
"I expected the unexpected, but I was shocked," said Huet, who met with the media at the Bell Centre before heading to Washington. "I had three great years here.
"It was a lot of fun. I can’t say anything bad. I would love to have finished the job here but it was a little difficult. I didn’t play well enough the last three weeks so I guess I didn’t help my cause. Now I have a chance to join another team and try to help them jump into the playoffs."
Huet was 21-12-6 with a 2.55 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage this season. He was a standout in October and January this season, but in his last four games, he was 1-3-0 with 4.50 average and an .859 save percentage.
Huet, who is earning US$2.75 million this season, can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He said the Canadiens never appraoched him about a contract extension.
Price is considered the club’s goaltender of the future. The 20-year-old was drafted fifth overall in 2005 and last season led Canada to gold at the world junior championships and then led the Hamilton Bulldogs to an AHL title.
"He’s a great goaltender," said Huet. "I see no reason for him not to succeed."
He said Washington general manager George McPhee said he was happy to get him, but he has no indication how much he will play in Washington, where fading veteran Olaf Kolzig has been backed up by Brent Johnson this season.
Montreal acquired Huet in 2004 from Los Angeles along with Radek Bonk in a deal that sent goalie Mathieu Garon and a draft pick to the Kings.
His debut was delayed by the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season and he missed the first two months of the 2005-06 campaign, but then shone when he got into the nets while Jose Theodore was struggling, leading the NHL with a .929 save percentage.
He also became a fan favourite at the Bell Centre.
"I’ll miss the atmosphere here," he said.
The French-born goaltender is unproven over a full season. He has played 39 games this season, three short of his career high.