The Montreal Canadiens traded backup goalie Peter Budaj and forward Patrick Holland to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday for forward Eric Tangradi, but the move has little at all to do with the latter from the Habs’ perspective. In fact, it has little at all do with Budaj either.
This move, as per TSN.ca, is all about clearing way for Dustin Tokarski to become Montreal’s undisputed backup this season.
Budaj the Clear Odd Man Out
Budaj had become expendable from both a cost and play perspective. Once Michel Therrien handed the reins to Tokarski after starter Carey Price got injured in the third round of the postseason, it became apparent the Habs trusted the youngster more in a pinch.
And Tokarski, to his credit, delivered, despite losing the series. His above-average .916 save percentage through five games last spring (and his .946 one through three regular-season games last year) are a good indication of what he brings to the table.
Budaj was also making $1.4 million for one more season, Tokarski a relatively paltry $562,500 for each of the next two seasons. The move enables the Habs to save money against the cap without exposing either Budaj or Tokarski to the waiver wire (and losing them for nothing).
Make no mistake: while this is a trade involving only backups and minor-league forwards, it’s a major coup for the Habs. Tangradi is just icing on the cake
Tangradi the New Man In
Enter Tangradi: a rife-with-potential 25-year-old left winger who was once thought to be the answer to the question of who would play with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. Originally drafted in the second round of the 2007 NHL entry draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Tangradi got traded to the Penguins with Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney in 2009.
At 6’4”, 221 pounds, he showed flashes of power-forward potential which never materialized. He had a career-high six points in 55 games with Winnipeg last year. He had just gotten placed on waivers and reassigned to the St. John’s Ice Caps of the American Hockey League yesterday.
One More Job Available in Montreal
The trade also means there is one more position up for grabs either up front or on the back end in Montreal. There were rumors that the Habs would go with three goalies on their roster rather than risk losing Tokarski on waivers or paying Budaj his full salary to play in the minors.
Unfortunately, that job is not Tangradi’s. If he ends up in Montreal this season, it will have little to do with his play and everything to do with mounting injuries up front.
Following the cuts of Christian Thomas and Darren Dietz after Saturday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators (and the Budaj trade), there are currently 24 players remaining in camp (excluding the reportedly injured Lars Eller, as per TSN.ca) and maybe one more cut to be made. Jacob De La Rose, Jarred Tinordi, Francis Bouillon, and Travis Moen were thought to be at risk prior to the trade.
Look for Moen, who makes $1.85 million on a one-way deal to be safe. That means either De La Rose or Tinordi or both (at the expense of Bouillon) will surprisingly end up as Montreal Canadiens in the near future.
It would be surprising for Tinordi, because of his lackluster preseason, during which he allowed six giveaways in six games, including two in his final game on Saturday night. In sharp contrast, a position with the Habs would constitute a reward for De La Rose for his impressive two-way play and would only be a surprise due to this being his first professional season in North America.
Montreal opens up the regular season Wednesday, October 8, against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road, at which point the roster has to be down to 23 players.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has also written for the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently writes about all things Habs for THW, with it being a career highlight for him to have covered the 2021 Stanley Cup Final as a credentialed member of the press.