Peter Budaj

Jets’ Maurice offers latest vote of confidence for Pavelec


In a league where patience runs out pretty quickly for unsuccessful experiments, the Winnipeg Jets have been sticking with Ondrej Pavelec through thick and thin. (OK, mostly thin.)

Aside from a depth move that may just complicate their backup situation in trading for Peter Budaj, the Jets are standing pat in net, even if Winnipeg’s lack of progress in this area sticks out like a sore thumb.

While it’s not exactly like head coach Paul Maurice has much of a choice, he’s backing up his 27-year-old netminder, as the Winnipeg Free-Press reports.

“The Pav thing… I guess I understand it when you start reading the stats from the last couple of years,” Maurice said.

” … But when I showed up what I saw from the guy, he played pretty darn well in that stretch. He had a .947 (save percentage) in the first 14 games and I couldn’t understand the surprise at it.”

Simply put, Pavelec hasn’t come close to translating that work over a full season, even if his highlight reel saves tend to captivate. His career save percentage (.906) is basically “backup-level” stuff, and it’s not as if he’s winning despite those stats, either (113-125-35 career record).

With a $3.9 million cap hit that doesn’t expire until after the 2016-17 season, the feeling seems to be that the Jets are “stuck” with Pavelec. At least the organization’s getting pretty adept at spinning his struggles, though, right?

Past stories about Pavelec’s struggles

He wasn’t happy with his play (2012-13 edition)

Vote of confidence from GM Kevin Cheveldayoff heading into this offseason

He had a nightmarish time in the 2014 Winter Olympics, too

Under Pressure

Seriously, this has been an issue for ages

Jets waive Budaj one day after trading for him


Well, here’s an interesting move.

Roughly 24 hours after acquiring Peter Budaj from Montreal, the Winnipeg Jets placed the veteran goalie on waivers.

The Jets didn’t give up much to get Budaj — Eric Tangradi, who they’d previously waived anyway — but the decision to subject Budaj to waivers is a bit of a surprise. Many thought the 32-year-old would shore up Winnipeg’s dicey goaltending situation; No. 1 Ondrej Pavelec has some major question marks coming into this season and his projected backup, Michael Hutchinson, has all of three games of NHL experience and looked shaky at times this preseason.

That said, Hutchinson was also required to clear waivers and it seems GM Kevin Cheveldayoff thought exposing Budaj was the safer bet.

Habs deal Budaj to Jets for Tangradi


The Montreal Canadiens solved their goaltending dilemma Sunday dealing Peter Budaj to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Eric Tangradi.

Winnipeg also picked up Patrick Holland in the deal.

Budaj, 32, has spent nine seasons in the NHL with the Avalanche and Canadiens. In 296 career games, he is 124-107-36 with a 2.76 GAA and a, .903 save percentage to go along with 11 career shutouts.

Originally a sixth round pick of the Avs, Budaj had a 10-8-3 record last season backing up Carey Price, but fell out of of favor with the club as prospect Dustin Tokarski started over him in the playoffs when Price was injured.

“I would like to thank Peter Budaj who has been an outstanding teammate and stood tall for us over the past three seasons,” said GM Marc Bergevin in a statement. “This transaction enables our team to make room for Dustin Tokarski.”

As TVA’s Renaud Lavoie points out, the Habs save $838,000 with Tokaraski as the team’s backup over Budaj.

Both Budaj and Tokarski would’ve required waivers, so you can see why the trade was made.

Budaj provides Winnipeg with a solid No. 2 to push starter Ondrej Pavelec. Prior to the deal, the Jets had rookie Michael Hutchinson backing up Pavelec. Hutchinson has just three career NHL games on his resume.

Holland has spent the last two seasons with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Last season the 22-year-old had six goals and 17 points in 57 games. He also appeared in five games for the Canadiens where he was held without a point. Holland will likely report to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.

Tangradi, who cleared waivers on Saturday, will be assigned to the Bulldogs. The 25-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Jets where he scored four goals and 10 points in 91 games. Originally an Anaheim Ducks second round pick, Tangradi also appeared in 45 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins over four seasons.

“Eric Tangradi is a young veteran with 136 NHL games under his belt. He adds depth to our group up front and provides us with more options when we will need help coming from our affiliate team in Hamilton,” said Bergevin.

Jets trim roster

In a separate transaction the Jets released six players Sunday.

Ben Chiarot and Keaton Ellerby were placed on waivers while goaltender goaltender Danny Taylor was released from his professional tryout.

Winnipeg also sent Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Nic Petan back to their respective junior clubs.

On carrying three goalies, and which teams might be forced to do it


Few things cause more hand-wringing in the goalie world than a team that carries three.

In fact, you rarely see the phrase “carrying three goalies” without the word “comfortable” attached, because most teams are forced to publicly claim they’re OK with a logjam in goal — even though they really aren’t.

Why? Well, having three goalies isn’t beneficial outside of crease insurance: Only two can dress for games and only two can practice at a time, so the third goalie really just wastes a roster spot. But there are, at times, certain circumstances that force an NHL club’s hand — in fact, a few teams currently find themselves in such a position.


Goalies: Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom

The Canucks have written the book on how not to handle goalies (granted, lead author Mike Gillis is now gone), so it’ll be interesting to see what transpires in the wake of new head coach Willie Desjardins saying he was “comfortable” carrying three. Miller is the unquestioned No. 1, a role he inherited from Lack, who briefly held the role after Roberto Luongo was dealt to Florida last season. That starting experience has put Lack, 26, in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 gig… which leaves a bunch of question marks around Markstrom, the once-touted prospect who’s been re-working his game under Canucks goalie guru Rollie Melanson.

Here’s more, from The Province:

The Canucks are currently carrying three goalies because they’re not sure what’s the best Markstrom option.

Trying to move the stopper and his expiring $1.4-million-US one-way contract ($1.2-million cap hit) to the minors means avoiding a waiver claim. Trying to trade him means Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata suddenly move up the ladder if injury strikes.

And how do you gauge the trade return on a goalie that the Florida Panthers gave up on, despite the work coach Rollie Melanson has done to make Markstrom’s game more NHL-ready? Imagine keeping three goalies here.

Further confusing things? It’s unclear what Markstrom’s really worth an as asset. Despite possessing tremendous size (6-foot-6) and pedigree (the 31st overall pick in 2008), he didn’t just fall out of favor in Florida — he plummeted.

“The Panthers were really not impressed with him. I mean, they really thought that he nosedived as a prospect,” ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun said, per TSN 1040 Radio. “And it’s why they were more than happy to include him in [the Luongo] deal.”


Goalies: Carey Price, Peter Budaj, Dustin Tokarski

The real question here is who’ll be Price’s backup — Budaj, the 10-year veteran with nearly 300 games under his belt, or Tokarski, who performed admirably in the Eastern Conference Final after getting thrown into a near-impossible situation? (A starting gig he got ahead of Budaj, remember.)

According to GM Marc Bergevin, Montreal might wait a while before making that decision. From TSN:

“That’s why you have training camp and we’ll see what happens,” [Bergevin said]. “We have depth in that position now.”

So much depth in fact that since either [Budaj or Tokarski] would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the minors, dealing one of them or even beginning the year with both backups on the roster are both in the realm of possibility.

“If we feel one guy is really ahead of the other guy, we will make a decision. Maybe a trade might be a possibility, but at the end of the day, also starting with three goalies might be a possibility. I leave it open, but again, I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out during training camp.”

Money could play a role here. Budaj isn’t expensive, but will make $1.4 million this season — Tokarski, meanwhile, carries a $562,500 cap hit.


Goalies: Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper, Josh Harding, Ilya Bryzgalov

The Wild’s situation has been downgraded from “the entire building is on fire” to “there’s smoke coming out of that garbage can,” but still remains a problem. Harding’s suspended after breaking his foot by (allegedly) kicking a wall; Kuemper returned to the club after (acrimoniously) hammering out a new deal; Backstrom’s healthy (at least at the time of writing) and looks to be the No. 1 while Bryzgalov (amazingly) is back in the mix on a PTO.

The easiest (and simplest) solution here would be to part ways with Bryzgalov after training camp and roll with a Backstrom-Kuemper combo until Harding’s foot is healed. But that, of course, would require a tremendous amount of faith in Backstrom being able to stay healthy — which has been a problem — and an equal amount of faith in Kuemper being able to carry No. 1 duties should Backstrom get hurt. The Wild might be best served to keep Bryzgalov around as an insurance policy, though it’d be a costly one both in terms of salary and the tied-up roster spot.

Habs’ Price expects to be 100 percent to start 2014-15

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As valiant as Dustin Tokarski’s efforts were against the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens still faced the stark reality of life without Carey Price during the 2014 postseason. Considering the fact that his knee issues kept him from skating for most of the summer, it’s fantastic news that the goalie believes he’ll be good to go, as TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports:

That’s definitely what the Habs want to hear, yet they might want to be cautious with Price during training camp and the preseason.

Beyond keeping the 27-year-old’s health in mind, they could also get an extended glance at Peter Budaj (still under contract at $1.4 million) and Tokarski (who possesses a club-friendly deal that goes from two-way in 2014-15 to one-way in 2015-16).

While Budaj, 31, didn’t exactly get the vote of confidence by sitting after Price was injured, there’s still some question regarding whether or not Tokarski’s style can hold up to extended scrutiny at the NHL level. The 24-year-old made some dazzling saves against the Rangers, yet his aggressiveness also opens the door to goals that might not happen with more cookie cutter techniques (see: Roberto Luongo’s memorable original criticisms of Tim Thomas).

There’s no such doubt about Price’s viability, of course. He’s coming off a brilliant season in which he won a gold medal with Team Canada and generated a career-best .927 save percentage alongside a great 34-20-5 record.