One of the most remarkable things about Carey Price’s list of accomplishments 11 seasons into his sterling career is his surprisingly short list of all-star team berths. He’s had just one. Yes, one. A first-team nod. It, of course, came the same season he won the Hart and Vezina Trophies, in 2014-15.
Price has been the game’s most dominating netminder for much of the past decade. There have been good times and bad times with the up-and-down Montreal Canadiens – and some injuries – but the fact Price has finished in the top two in Vezina voting just once is startling. But let’s not lose sight of the fact Price’s career is a little more than half over. There’s time for more honors. And his trophy case is already looking good. Here’s how it all got started.
Price grew up in the remote B.C. town of Anahim Lake, where his father bought a small four-seater plane to fly him to practice nearly 200 miles away in Williams Lake. That passion paid off for Price, as he was taken seventh in the 2002 WHL bantam draft by Tri-City, a franchise that became part-owned by Washington goaltending great Olaf Kolzig.
While he developed with the Americans, Price was showing elite skills, and in 2007 he helped Canada strike gold at the world juniors with a .961 save percentage in six games. The key matchup came in the semifinal against Team USA, which went to a shootout. With Jonathan Toews providing the goals and Price staring down Peter Mueller for the clinching save, Canada prevailed in a classic showdown that still makes top-10 lists when WJC history is discussed.
Price was named MVP of the tournament but wasn’t finished yet. After his Tri-City season ended, he joined the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and led them to the Calder Cup, where the young netminder was named MVP again.
Once his NHL career began in Montreal, Price quickly joined the league’s upper class. His size, calmness and near-perfect butterfly technique made him one of the game’s most intimidating netminders. In 2015, he joined a rare club as a goalie who won the Hart. He also has an Olympic gold medal and a World Cup gold medal, not to mention the Vezina.
While there have been some injury problems (a major lower-body issue in 2015-16 and a more recent concussion), the only thing stopping Price from earning more hardware in the NHL – like a Stanley Cup – is the team in front of him. The Canadiens have relied heavily on Price for years, and the results of a pop-gun offense have been predictable. Still, Price has always been a pro, and no matter the state of the rest of the Habs’ roster, he never changes his philosophy. “Regardless of your position in the standings, I’ve always tried to take one day at a time,” Price said. “You can only earn two points in one game, so I’ve tried to keep that in mind and prepare for each game individually.”
As the team evolves around him, Price can still be counted on for excellent goaltending, and he clearly loves being in Montreal. The Canadiens have a boatload of legendary netminders in their history, and Price has shown he belongs in the top tier of that company. Montreal signed him to a massive contract extension in the summer of 2017, which should keep the franchise goalie with the only NHL organization he has ever known until 2026.
Born: Aug. 16, 1987, Anahim Lake, B.C.
NHL Career: 2007-present
Stats: 286-201-62, 2.46 GAA, .918 SP, 40 SO
All-Star: 1 (First-1)
Trophies: 3 (Hart-1, Lindsay-1, Vezina-1)
DID YOU KNOW?
Price was drafted fifth overall by Montreal in 2005. Since then, no goalie has gone in the top 10. The closest were Jonathan Bernier and Jack Campbell at 11th overall. Taking goalies high used to be more common (Marc-Andre Fleury and Rick DiPietro went first overall, don’t forget), but the risk is now seen as too high, as the development curve for a goalie is so long. Then again, if another talent like Price comes along…