Theoretically, it should be easy for a 30-year-old goalie with seven seasons of NHL experience and over 250 games to find work.
But for Peter Budaj — a guy who fits the above profile to a “T” — it’s been no easy task.
“Playing now would be so much better,” Budaj told the Montreal Gazette while working out in Denver. “I’m an unemployed person right now.”
Budaj played in Montreal last season on a two-year, $2.3 million deal to serve as Carey Price’s backup and eliminate the need for the Habs to run Price ragged (he appeared in a franchise-high 72 games in 2010-11.)
The plan worked in part — Budaj appeared in 17 games, cutting Price’s workload to 65 — but it still wasn’t a ton of playing time. As such, Budaj’s going a little stir crazy.
In terms of finding work, it’s a little surprising he hasn’t taken the European route already. Budaj played his youth hockey with Slovakian club Banska Bystrica and has represented his country on numerous occasions at the international level.
Given the large number of European goalies that have found work overseas (Pekka Rinne, Ilya Bryzgalov, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky signed in the KHL; Tuukka Rask and Ondrej Pavelec joined the Czech Extraliga; Antti Niemi returned to his native Finland and Viktor Fasth, signed to be Jonas Hiller‘s backup in Anaheim, joined the Swedish second division), one would figure Budaj could find work.
Budaj figures as much as well, but isn’t sure he wants to make the trek just yet.
“Obviously, I’m not happy. I’d love to be playing right now, the situation is not good for players or anybody else,” he said. “I hope we’re going to solve it pretty quickly and hopefully we start pretty soon.
“But if this keeps going, maybe in a couple weeks I’ll start looking for some place to play in Europe.”