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The Curious Case of Dustin Tokarski


ihabs1993
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As far as goaltending controversies go, this is a much better conundrum for the Montreal Canadiens than the controversy between the pipes that arose at this time of year in 2010. The Habs stunned the hockey world by taking out the league leading Washington Capitals and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins with a dominating performance in net by an underdog goalie who has since signed a 4 year, $18 million contract with the New York Islanders. Jaroslav Halak proved that goalies are truly born in the playoffs.

Halak was able to step in as Carey Price struggled throughout the season.

 

After the Canadiens bowed out to the dominant New York Rangers, the Habs' brass was left with a similar, yet different decision to make. After seeing Carey Price suffer a knee injury in game one of the Eastern Conference Final, Habs coach, Michel Therrien decided to take a gamble on a young goaltender by the name of Dustin Tokarski, over the Canadiens proven backup, Peter Budaj. Therrien spoke highly of the young goaltender, saying that Tokarski was a proven winner and a battler. Therrien was spot on in both respects. Tokarski has quite an illustrious resume, including a Memorial Cup win in 2008 with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, a World Junior Championship with Canada in 2009, and a Calder Cup Championship with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL in 2012. In 5 games with the Canadiens in the playoffs, the rookie goaltender gave the Habs a chance against the Rangers, by putting together 2 wins, along with a GAA of 2.60 and a save percentage of .916. Not bad for a rookie being thrown into the fire.

 

Peter Budaj, who? 

 

It seems like through out all of this Tokarski sensationalism, many people had forgotten that Montreal has a very effective backup goalie in Budaj. This season, Budaj went 10-8-3 with a save percentage of .909 and a GAA of 2.51. Not terrible numbers, but he played well in big games, more noticeably against the juggernaut Boston Bruins.

 

But where Budaj falters to Tokarksi is in his resume. On Budaj's Wikipedia page, the awards and achievements section is generous to say the least. He was once an OHL second team all star, and part of the NHL youngstars game in 2007. Not exactly a stellar track record.

 

So where does the Habs' GM, Marc Bergevin, decide to go from here? Many people believed that Peter Budaj will need to find a new place to work come next season, however if history has taught us anything, it is that the hot player often gets moved when the value is at its' highest.

 

And for Tokarski, the value isn't getting much higher in the near future.

 

Therefore, I see the Canadiens moving Tokarski this summer, while the performance of this young man is still fresh in everyone's mind.

 

I see three possible candidates for Tokarski moving forward:

 

1: The Buffalo Sabres

In a total rebuild at the moment, the Sabres have two goaltenders who have spent some time as number one, and as the back up. Neuvirth and Enroth are tricky to figure out, because you're never sure which goalie you're going to see. However, in a possible package deal, the Habs could add size with Drew Stafford, who has been mentioned in trade rumors for years, but nothing has come to fruition just yet. This deal could ultimately fall apart if the Sabres believe they can win with the goalies they have now, or they are not willing to move Stafford.

 

2: The Edmonton Oilers:

Having not made the playoffs since 2006, the Oilers fans are getting restless. With a young, fast and capable team, Edmonton has been expected to perform for the past few years, however goaltending has always been an issue. Good news for Tokarski is that if moved, Scrivens will have a very short leash, leading me to believe that Tokarski could start in Edmonton if moved there. The only part of this deal that makes me think it doesn't get done is the lack of middle ranged players that Edmonton posses. The depth isn't there for making a deal as Montreal won't settle for a fourth line player and the Oilers won't be looking to move one of their dynamic youngsters for a goalie just yet.

 

3: The Calgary Flames:

At the moment, the Flames have only Karri Ramo under contract to tend the pipes next year, which could make one believe that they are in the market of acquiring a goaltender. In a rebuild much like Buffalo, there are some older pieces there for the taking, and I believe Montreal could mover Tokarski there for Curtis Glencross. The Habs are looking to get bigger, and the gritty, scoring 6'1'' winger could be a fit in La Belle Province. The only set back to this deal could similar to the Buffalo deal, as I'm not sold that Calgary is willing to move Glencross as he could be a veteran part of the rebuild. 

 

There are other things to consider in this Tokarski debate. One is Budaj's value, which can't be very high considering he put up ok numbers, but then lost his job to a 24 year old when it mattered most. Plus most teams are looking for youth in goalie rebuilds, which Budaj does not have. You also have to take into account that the Habs have highly rated prospect Zachary Fucale in the QMJHL with Halifax. Montreal's plans with Tokarski also weigh heavily on Fucale's future with the Habs.

 

I still think Budaj is an effective backup in the league who can win Montreal games down the stretch. With one year left on his contract, I have to think that this is his last year with the Habs if Tokarski isn't moved.But if you're Peter Budaj, why do you want to be a third string goalie?

 

Either way, Montreal has a situation to deal with, and Bergevin sees only the positives.

 

What do you think? Am I way off? Close? Speak up!

 

Thanks for the read

Ian

ihabs1993

Edited by ihabs1993
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And for Tokarski, the value isn't getting much higher in the near future.
 
Therefore, I see the Canadiens moving Tokarski this summer, while the performance of this young man is still fresh in everyone's mind.

 

I would not move Tokarski. As you proven, he has won at EVERY level he has played. Thats a rare feat. Budjai is expendable (he only has 1 year left on his contract). Easily moveable to a team seeking a serviceable back-up. Tokarski is the Habs goalie of the future. 

 

The ONLY way I would move Tokarski is if the Habs have a BETTER prospect in their system (which I would be hard pressed to believe have better credentials than Tokarski and has played as well as Tokarski did in the playoffs). A bird in hand is worth two in the bush so to speak. 

 

Keep him, move budjai for a pick and let Tokarski back-up Price next year. 

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Persoanlly I felt Budaj based off his solid season was really slighted when Price went down and the team went with Tokarski.

 

  And before anyone channels their inner Ken Dryden lets remember that Tokarski went 2-3 in 5 starts.

 

Personally I don't think much of Tokarski, a career AHLer who a coach played a hunch on and quite frankly it didn't work. The goaltending market is glutted this offseason, there are many better options and I doubt Montreal could get much of anything for him.

  So in short, I would keep him, he is a fine emergency goalie with a little upside but that is about it and I doubt you could get anything for him so you might as well hold onto him.

Edited by yave1964
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Persoanlly I felt Budaj based off his solid season was really slighted when Price went down and the team went with Tokarski.

 

Perhaps, but Budaj did not do himself any favors allowing 3 goals in his 20 minutes of play on 8 shots. Should he have gotten another crack, perhaps. But Tokarski did very well. In fact, he was close to matching Henry in the Rangers series, with exception to the blowout game. 

 

Budaj is what he is- he was given a chance and stunk the joint up. Management said WTF do we have to lose and went with the kid that was a proven winner at every level. 

 

Its interesting you say a "career AHLer" at the ripe old age of 24. A calder cup winner. I guess for me, Budaj is gone after next year and you are right, the Habs can pick up allot of other journeyman goalies to play back up. But why? Tokarski has done very well at the AHL level. In his 3 starts during the regular season for the habs this year, he shined. In the playoffs, he shined.  If you have a rub on him fine, but he certainly is no better / worse than Budaj or any other journeyman backup and his upside is much higher. 

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Perhaps, but Budaj did not do himself any favors allowing 3 goals in his 20 minutes of play on 8 shots. Should he have gotten another crack, perhaps. But Tokarski did very well. In fact, he was close to matching Henry in the Rangers series, with exception to the blowout game. 

 

Budaj is what he is- he was given a chance and stunk the joint up. Management said WTF do we have to lose and went with the kid that was a proven winner at every level. 

 

Its interesting you say a "career AHLer" at the ripe old age of 24. A calder cup winner. I guess for me, Budaj is gone after next year and you are right, the Habs can pick up allot of other journeyman goalies to play back up. But why? Tokarski has done very well at the AHL level. In his 3 starts during the regular season for the habs this year, he shined. In the playoffs, he shined.  If you have a rub on him fine, but he certainly is no better / worse than Budaj or any other journeyman backup and his upside is much higher. 

I have no problem with Tokarski. He is an okay goalie, no better or worse than some guys who are hanging around in the NHL as career backups. My problem is after playing 5 postseason games some people are out of their heads for him and acting as if he is the next coming of Jacques Plante. A little perspective would be nice. 24 is certainly not old but not young either, he was traded once for the immortal Cedric Desjardins, he could not beat out Budaj who is one of those career goalies always ahnging around forever, and when given a chance his team lost to the Rangers. He played okay in the series, good enough to lose and not embarrass himself. I just feel that there are a lot of better goalie options out there, maybe as many as ten this offseason who i would rather take a chance on if i needed a goalie.

  On my Wings, Gustaffsson is a free agent. If somehow we wound up with Tokarski as the backup, i would be, meh, okay, no big deal, no reason to get ecited or bummed out. IMHO he is just a body, nothing more or less.

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On my Wings, Gustaffsson is a free agent. If somehow we wound up with Tokarski as the backup, i would be, meh, okay, no big deal, no reason to get ecited or bummed out. IMHO he is just a body, nothing more or less.

 

All fair points and I am far from anointing him as the next dryden. But my philosophy from where I sit with my arm on my couch, is what do I have to lose? Budaj is fine. I use sv. pctg as a barometer to a goalies performance (right or wrong). Budaj .909 is mid of the road. You could have Ryan Miller at a .903 as a starter or Byrzgalov at .911 as a starter / backup. Truthfully, the habs dont need to do anything. Tokarski is a RFA under and entry level contract for two more years. Montreal has much bigger fish to fry than worry about the goaltending situation. 

 

For me personally, let Budaj play it out (unless Tokarski stuns in camp). 

 

The thing is that its a fish or cut bait situation. While Montreal does not need to do anything, Tokarski is too good to play in the AHL any further. To the OP point, do you move him while his stock is high? For me, I don't think his stock is high because of the playoffs (though color me impressed), I think his stock is high because he is a good goalie and primed to take the next step. Nothing more, nothing less. 

 

If I am the Habs, I let them battle it out in training camp. If Budaj plays better fine. If Tokarski still shines at the AHL level, I move Budaj at the trade deadline and move Tokarski up. 

 

My arms hurt from leaning so much on my armchair. 

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I would not move Tokarski. As you proven, he has won at EVERY level he has played. Thats a rare feat. Budjai is expendable (he only has 1 year left on his contract). Easily moveable to a team seeking a serviceable back-up. Tokarski is the Habs goalie of the future. 

 

The ONLY way I would move Tokarski is if the Habs have a BETTER prospect in their system (which I would be hard pressed to believe have better credentials than Tokarski and has played as well as Tokarski did in the playoffs). A bird in hand is worth two in the bush so to speak. 

 

Keep him, move budjai for a pick and let Tokarski back-up Price next year. 

But what you said at the end is exactly why I would move him. Budaj can backup Price with no problems. Tokarski can be a starter in this league now. Plus Montreal does have another Memorial cup winning goaltender in Zachary Fucale, who also was the first goalie selected in last years draft. 

Thanks for the read

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Persoanlly I felt Budaj based off his solid season was really slighted when Price went down and the team went with Tokarski.

 

  And before anyone channels their inner Ken Dryden lets remember that Tokarski went 2-3 in 5 starts.

 

Personally I don't think much of Tokarski, a career AHLer who a coach played a hunch on and quite frankly it didn't work. The goaltending market is glutted this offseason, there are many better options and I doubt Montreal could get much of anything for him.

  So in short, I would keep him, he is a fine emergency goalie with a little upside but that is about it and I doubt you could get anything for him so you might as well hold onto him.

From what your saying, it sounds like you think Tokarski was a flop. Personally, I think he did much better than anyone thought he would and he gave his team a chance to win the series, however the team in front of him was just manhandled by the Rangers. The thing is that many teams want a goalie like him to start a rebuild around. 

Thanks for the read

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From what your saying, it sounds like you think Tokarski was a flop. Personally, I think he did much better than anyone thought he would and he gave his team a chance to win the series, however the team in front of him was just manhandled by the Rangers. The thing is that many teams want a goalie like him to start a rebuild around. 

 

Agree with everything you stated (and was also how I read Yave post). 

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Agree with everything you stated (and was also how I read Yave post). 

  Montreal's goaltending.

I love price

As a number two I really like Budaj

As a number three I really like Tokarski

I am not attempting to denigrate Tokarski, I just don't see him as much more than a solid backup. I do not see him as a starter.

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As a number two I really like Budaj

As a number three I really like Tokarski

I am not attempting to denigrate Tokarski, I just don't see him as much more than a solid backup. I do not see him as a starter.

 

Price is obviously "the man" for the Habs. But why the love fest with Budaj? Even as a back up. He is a career .500 win pctg goalie, with .900 sv pctg and 2.76 gaa avg (and his AHL numbers are nearly identical). What about that is there that you REALLY like? Your posts are always very articulate / inciteful / and obviously informed. So, I mean this with all due respect. 

 

Budaj of the world are a dime a dozen. I am not anointing Tokarski as the next coming, but man he is better than Budaj (and there is nothing you can say to prove me wrong on that count). Heck, even Therien thinks so (which given the pressure cooker that is Montreal speaks volumes in him putting faith in the unproven youngster over Budaj). 

 

Crap, even Bryzgalov is better than Budaj. 

 

I get it if Tokarski banged your sisters 18 y/o daughter and there is a sore spot. Otherwise, I don't get it at all. 

Edited by Vanflyer
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Price is obviously "the man" for the Habs. But why the love fest with Budaj? Even as a back up. He is a career .500 win pctg goalie, with .900 sv pctg and 2.76 gaa avg (and his AHL numbers are nearly identical). What about that is there that you REALLY like? Your posts are always very articulate / inciteful / and obviously informed. So, I mean this with all due respect. 

 

Budaj of the world are a dime a dozen. I am not anointing Tokarski as the next coming, but man he is better than Budaj (and there is nothing you can say to prove me wrong on that count). Heck, even Therien thinks so (which given the pressure cooker that is Montreal speaks volumes in him putting faith in the unproven youngster over Budaj). 

 

Crap, even Bryzgalov is better than Budaj. 

 

I get it if Tokarski banged your sisters 18 y/o daughter and there is a sore spot. Otherwise, I don't get it at all. 

LOL!! No Tokarski didn't bang one of my daughters or shoot my dog, I just think he is a solid AHLer, nothing more. He could have a Cam Talbot Alex Stalock type of career, stuck in the minors and finds a job by default but I wouldn't go out and give him much more than  that. All I am saying is if I were an NHL GM there is no way no how I would hang my hat on the guy.

  THE CASE FOR

 He had a nice shutout late in the year and has won at pretty much every level including a Calder Cup. When Price went down in the postseason the Hab's went with him over Budaj and he didn't embarrass himself, playing well as the Rangers won in six games.

 

 THE CASE AGAISNT His career NHL record, 10 games, a 3-3-1 record with a 2.93 goals against and a save pct of .902. His postseason was 2-3 with a 2.60 goals against and a save pct of .916. He is 25 at the start of next season, a bit old for a prospect. Montreal got him from the Lightning for the immortal Cedrick Desjardins. His AHL record is 104-72-11 with a 2.45 goals against and a save pct of only .910. He is relatively small (5 foot 11 and 190 lbs). 

 

 Again, I don't hate him, I was puzzled when the Lightning essentially gave up on him a few years ago, I thought he was a bit of a prospect at the time and was surprised they essentially wrote him off. He disappeared into Hamilton and I frankly kind of wrote him off. I may have been premature in doing so.

 

 BUDAJ

 I think he is the quintessential backup goalie, a Marty Biron type, he had a shot with the Avalanche for several years and proved that he was not starting material. With Montreal over the past three seasons backing up Price he has appeared in 54 games with a record of 23-16-9, a 2.49 goals against and a .910 save pct. He is what he is, you can plug him in on the back to back nights, he can fill in when Price inevitably goes down as he does most years, Not good enough to start, to me he is well suited in his role as a veteran backup who knows his role with the club.

 

  Again, Tokarski hasn't shot my dog or ran off with my wife (hell he might go up in my estimation for taking her off my hands, lol) but a 25 year old solid AHLer who has put up meh numbers in the NHL when given a chance does not impress me as much as some others. I think if the Canadiens can get a 4th rounder or higher from say, the Flames or Jets, they should jump all over it. IMHO the odds of him having much of a career has to be less than say 20 percent, that again is strictly my opinion. Lets kind of keep an eye on him next year and revisit this throughout the season. It might be interesting to see what happens.

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Again, Tokarski hasn't shot my dog or ran off with my wife (hell he might go up in my estimation for taking her off my hands, lol) but a 25 year old solid AHLer who has put up meh numbers in the NHL when given a chance does not impress me as much as some others.

 

You and I are coming at this from completely different angles. You say career AHL'er and I say developing goalie. You say meh nhl numbers and I say 10 games at the NHL level hardly equates into anything- particularly when 2 games were when he was 20 years , 5 where when he was 22 y/o (all 7 for a crappy Tampa team). 

 

The reason he was traded was because Gudlevskis. They choose that horse. Nothing more, nothing less. 

 

You still have to scratch your head and wonder why Therien choose Tokarski instead of Budaj? (oh and btw, I am born in Colorado and a big Avs fan behind Flyers- and or course Vancouver). I have watched Budaj play. He is an average goalie. Nothing more, nothing less- and a dime a dozen. 

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@Vanflyer @yave1964

Going back to what yave said about Talbot and Stalock, I thing both of those guys are very close to being number one goalies. Talbot is probably the most ready of the three, but none of these goalies are going to be career backup goalies. I think it would be absurd to think that. 

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