Who is Al Montoya?

Mandy Patinkin, better known for his work as Inigo Montoya in Rob Reiner's 1987 film version of The Princess Bride via upload.wikimedia.org
Hello. My name is Al Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
This is definitely not the first time that Montoya's surname has been used to make this joke, so I just want to get it out there right now.
Inigo Montoya: I do not mean to pry, but you don't by any chance happen to have six fingers on your left hand?

Westley: Do you always begin conversations this way?
Inigo Montoya, in case you didn't know, is a fictional character from the book, later movie, The Princess Bride (both highly recommended, by the way). A man with six fingers killed his father when he was a child, and he vowed for the rest of his life to become an expert fencer to carry out the ultimate revenge on the six-fingered man (who turns out to be Nigel Tufnel).
Inigo Montoya: I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge.
Nor, apparently, is there in backup goaltending. 600K for one year of play. Is that good or bad for us?

Miracle Max: You got any money?

Inigo Montoya: Sixty-five.

Miracle Max: I've never worked for so little. Except once, and that was a very noble cause.

Inigo Montoya: This is noble, sir. His wife is...crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.

Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar.

Inigo Montoya: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.

Miracle Max: Your first story was better.

So were Montoya's first couple sniffs of NHL action, then tempered by the third:

Season Team GP SA/60 LgSA/60 SV% LgSV% ESSV% LgESSV%
08-09 PHX 5 27.8 29.9 0.925 0.908 0.930 0.919
10-11 NYI 20 30.4 30.0 0.921 0.913 0.929 0.921
11-12 NYI 31 29.0 29.3 0.893 0.914 0.901 0.921
Career PHX/NYI 56 29.0 29.7 0.906 0.912 0.914 0.920

Basically, his career amounts to one season's work, including just over 1,500 shots...and really, you shouldn't be entirely comfortable in the predictability of a goaltender's save percentage until they face north of around 3,000 shots (in that piece, Gabe prefers working with even-strength shots as well). In the case of even-strength shots, we're only talking about 1,300 shots-against, so there you go. As for the kind of team he played behind...using my "crapped-on" indices, Montoya's teams gave him the 29th toughest context out of 52 goaltenders over the last five years (qualifying goaltenders had to play 3+ seasons of 20+ GP, so technically Montoya wouldn't even qualify), so it isn't like he's faced extraordinarily difficult support, nor extraordinarily easy.

On the other hand, my typical exercise (What is the damage? Where does he fit? Was it worth it?) is made quite easy by the contract itself. As barely above league-minimum (which would likely be 525K this coming year) for one year and Pavs in the fold, this is a backup goaltender contract that is worth it for a 27-year old with average-to-below-average playing performance.

Inigo Montoya: Offer me money.

Count Rugen: Yes!

Inigo Montoya: Power, too, promise me that...

Count Rugen: All that I have and more, please...

Inigo Montoya: Offer me anything I ask for...

Count Rugen: Anything you want.

Inigo Montoya: I want my father back, you son of a bitch.

(runs Count Rugen through with his sword)

And really, all that Montoya (Al version) wants is another chance at what's always dangled just beyond his reach: a chance to be the starter. It's a destiny that has been hard to fulfill ever since he was chosen 6th overall by the New York Rangers in 2004 (obviously, Henrik Lundqvist put the kibosh on starting in Madison Square Garden), was traded for a grab bag to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008 and posted a shutout in his first start for them (only to never get a real chance behind Ilya Bryzgalov), then traded for a 6th rounder in early 2011 to the New York Islanders, where he received the most playing time in his career only to watch the team sign Evgeni Nabokov. The Islanders would only turn to him when Nabokov was injured, and it was at this point that he unfortunately couldn't sustain his promising numbers from 2008-09 and 2010-11. Can he get the starting job in the Peg?

Obviously, the odds are strongly against him. Ondrej Pavelec just signed a starter's contract, while Montoya is only in on a 1-year deal. Also not helping is the fact that his non-NHL numbers have been disconcerting; since 2005, across 197 games in the AHL, he's only mustered a 90.4 save percentage, two-tenths of a point lower than his NHL save percentage, and it's not like he's faced an unfavorable workload, either (27.9 SA/60, well below the 29 he's faced in the NHL). Having an even-strength save percentage below NHL league-average by six percentage points isn't pretty either.

Of course, there is always that glimmer of hope, that his first 25 games in the NHL were more indicative of Montoya's potential than the last 31 (and really, he was still on track after his first 12 appearances of 2011-12; 93.3 save percentage under a 30.9 SA/60 barrage). Going into his age-28 season with seven pro years under his belt, there's little time left for him to fulfill his destiny...but hey, it took Inigo two decades.

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