By Dale Lamontagne, Lead Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
About a year and a half ago, Montreal Canadiens fans thought the goaltending position was weak. But now the Habs have Carey Price, Peter Budaj, Dustin Tokarski and Zachary Fucale in the organization. Pretty good, eh?
MILTON, ON. — The Montreal Canadiens will have to decide what they are going to do with their back up goaltending situation this summer. Carey Price, Montreal’s starting netminder, was injured in Game 1 of third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Head coach Michel Therrien made the gutsy decision to start rookie Dustin Tokarski over NHL veteran Peter Budaj.
Although, the Habs lost Game 6 to the New York Rangers and were eliminated, I fully believe Therrien made the right call by giving Tokarski the chance to shine – and boy oh boy, did he look good out there! Tokarski played very well and he was able to give the Canadiens a legitimate shot at winning the series when many fans thought there was very little chance doing so.
So the question is, do the Habs send Tokarski down to the Hamilton Bulldogs and risk losing him to waivers, or do they trade him before, or after the draft? Another option is to send Budaj down to Hamilton to make room for Tokarski, or they can trade him for a draft pick. It is pretty obvious that the Canadiens will not get much in return for either goaltender, but it’s better to receive a draft pick than losing one of them to waivers and get nothing in return.
At this point, I think if they trade Budaj and keep Tokarski, the Habs are making the better decision. I know some fans believe Tokarski’s value is higher than the market would suggest, but if he is traded this offseason, the club won’t get as much as they would if they trade him within the next year or two. That’s if he plays well with the Habs in that time. With Zach Fucale in the pipeline, Tokarski will not be nothing more than just a backup in Montreal. So, I say build up his stock and then trade him within the next two years.
Budaj has one year left on his deal and I think his days in Montreal are numbered. It should be considered what Tokarski has done with the Habs this season. It has been incredible. There’s a reason why Montreal inked him a new two-year deal in early April, and it makes you wonder what the Habs are thinking about in goal. Tokarski has proved himself this season that he can handle the pressure and can jump into a game at any time.
There’s no doubt in my mind if the Habs decided to send Tokarski down to the Bulldogs he would be claimed off of waivers. And what would be the point in that, right? So, if Budaj is moved not much is lost and the club would gain a draft pick – which will be used in the future.
The summer in Montreal should be interesting, that’s for sure.