Canadiens trade goalie Peter Budaj to Winnipeg Jets

 

Also send forward Patrick Holland for Eric Tangradi

 
 
 
 
Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was described as “an outstanding teammate” by general manager Marc Bergevin.
 

Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was described as “an outstanding teammate” by general manager Marc Bergevin.

Photograph by: Dario Ayala, The Gazette

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MONTREAL — Coach Michel Therrien has one less decision to make after the Canadiens traded backup goaltender Peter Budaj and minor-league winger Patrick Holland to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday in return for forward Eric Tangradi.

Budaj has been in a battle with Dustin Tokarski for the backup job behind Carey Price. Budaj had filled that role for three seasons, but Tokarski burst on the scene last spring when he was selected over Budaj to play after Price suffered a knee injury in the playoffs.

Budaj and Tokarski each appeared in two preseason games and the 32-year-old Budaj had slightly better numbers. But the Canadiens were leaning toward Tokarski because he had more of an upside and they were afraid that if they tried to return him to the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs another team would pick him up on waivers.

While he has limited NHL experience, the 25-year-old Tokarski would have been attractive because of his solid playoff performance last season and because he has been a winner throughout his career. Tokarski has backstopped his teams to the Telus Cup Midget Triple-A championship, a junior Memorial Cup, a world junior championship and the AHL Calder Cup. Tokarski also has a bargain-basement $550,000 salary and the Canadiens will save some money on the salary cap because Budaj will earn $1.4 million this season.

One downside to the trade is that the Canadiens lose another popular veteran. Budaj, 32, understood the role of a backup goaltender and accepted it. He had a 23-16-9 record in Montreal with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Holland, who came to Montreal in the 2012 trade that sent Michael Cammalleri to Calgary, played five games with the Canadiens early last season, but was a disappointment after returning to Hamilton, posting only 17 points in 57 games.

Tangradi, who has been assigned to Hamilton, is an upgrade in size and experience over Holland. The 25-year-old Philadelphia native is 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds and has played 136 regular-season games in the NHL with Pittsburgh and Winnipeg. He played junior hockey in Belleville, where he was a teammate of P.K Subban. The Anaheim Ducks selected Tangradi with the 42nd overall pick at the 2007 NHL entry draft, one pick before the Canadiens took Subban.

The Canadiens returned forward Christian Thomas and defenceman Darren Dietz to Hamilton after Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in their final preseason game. After trading Budaj, there are still 25 players in camp and the Canadiens have to reduce the roster to a maximum of 23 players by Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the remaining battles for a roster spot:

Defence: Nathan Beaulieu is the winner in the three-way battle with fellow youngsters Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi. Pateryn was returned to Hamilton last week and Tinordi was given another chance to show what he can do in Saturday’s game, but didn’t show enough to crack the top six.

Therrien said Tinordi “played his best game, he was involved.” But the coach went on to add: “There’s a timing involved with those young players and we have a decision to make.”

Translated from coachspeak, Therrien must decide whether Tinordi can expect to play enough at the NHL level to further his development or is he better off playing big minutes back in Hamilton.

There will be games where Tinordi’s size and strength will trump Beaulieu’s skating and skill, but not many. And as the seventh defenceman, Tinordi would be looking at spending a lot of time in the press box.

If Tinordi goes back to the minors, there’s an opening for 38-year-old veteran Francis Bouillon as the seventh defenceman. Bouillon, who is attending camp on a tryout basis, played in only one of the Canadiens’ seven preseason games, but that’s because the club knows what he can — and cannot — do and it was important to evaluate the kids.

Forwards: Rookie Jiri Sekac has won a spot on the roster and the only other newcomer still in camp is Jacob de la Rose, who played in the Swedish league last season. De la Rose will be heading to Hamilton once the Canadiens receive confirmation that Lars Eller, who has a nagging lower-body injury (think groin), will be ready to face Toronto Wednesday night in the season opener. Therrien said Eller and P.A. Parenteau, who was shaken up in Saturday’s loss to the Senators, should be ready.

Thomas made a strong impression in camp and left with a clear message: Work hard in Hamilton and you will be rewarded down the line. Dietz, who was one of the surprises of the camp, received a similar message. His strong showing on the blue line raises questions about Pateryn’s future with the team. Pateryn looked solid in camp, but was given an early ticket to the minors.

Michael Bournival and Travis Moen should be on the opening-night roster, but both players have slipped out of the top 12. The success of the Brandon Prust/Manny Malhotra/Dale Weise line has Moen looking at a seat in the press box.

The Canadiens finished the preseason schedule with a 4-2-1 record and back-to-back losses to Ottawa, which exposed the team’s penalty-killing unit. The Senators scored five of their eight goals on the power play.

Price said he was generally pleased with the team’s performance in the preseason, although he had some reservations.

“I thought everyone came to camp in great shape,” the goaltender said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we ended camp with the two losses and it shows we need to tighten things up, work on our systems a bit.”

The Canadiens resume practice Monday morning in Brossard and will have another workout Tuesday before flying to Toronto. They were originally scheduled to start the season with three games on the road, but a fourth game next Monday in Tampa was added at the end of the trip. That game was originally scheduled for April, but had to be moved to accommodate the NCAA hockey championship. The Canadiens also play next Thursday in Washington and Saturday in Philadelphia.

phickey@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: zababes1

 
 
 
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Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was described as “an outstanding teammate” by general manager Marc Bergevin.
 

Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was described as “an outstanding teammate” by general manager Marc Bergevin.

Photograph by: Dario Ayala, The Gazette

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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