By Scott Billeck
Al Montoya will be a member of the Winnipeg Jets for at least one more season after signing a one-year, $601,000 contract on Thursday.
The Jets backup to incumbent starter Ondrej Pavelec signed the same deal prior to the 2011-12 season and figures to see an increased workload with a full season ahead, starting this fall.
“It was a screwy year with the lockout,” said Montoya. “With the Olympic break coming up, I don’t expect the pace of this year to be much different than the last.
“I am excited and just looking forward to the opportunity.”
According to the Winnipeg Jets press release on Thursday, Montoya, 28, played in seven games for the Jets last season. In that time, the Chicago product produced a 3-1-0 record, a 2.91 goals against average and an .899 save percentage. He has suited up for 63 career NHL games between the Phoenix Coyotes, New York Islanders and Jets and has a 24-18-10 career record, 2.77 career goals against average and .906 career save percentage.
The former sixth overall draft pick is happy to be back in Winnipeg for another year.
“I really enjoyed my time last year,” said Montoya. “This is a good group, a good team, we came so close last year and for me, I like the coaching staff, I love working with the goalie coach (Wade Flaherty), so it was pretty simple. The city is great, my family liked it and I think the team is moving in the right direction.
“I’m happy with the result.”
According to Montoya, his relationship with Ondrej Pavelec is also going well.
“Pav’s a great goalie, a great guy – I consider him as one of my friends on the team,” said Montoya. “We definitely push each other, it is competitive, but it’s good competitive. For us to be out there and working against each other, you know, we really push each other in practice, you’re feeding off each other – It makes you a better player at the end of the day. “
Montoya is happy with the city and the organization along with his experience here in Winnipeg.
“For me, hockey-wise, the professionalism that the organization showed, the way the city evolved and treated us during the hockey season, it was fantastic,” said Montoya. “So for us, it was a great time, a great time of the year, and I can’t get enough of Jets hockey right now.”