Jets acquire G Peter Budaj in three-player trade with Canadiens

Peter Budaj is headed from Montreal to the Winnipeg Jets. (USATSI)
Peter Budaj is headed from Montreal to the Winnipeg Jets. (USATSI)

The Winnipeg Jets have some shakiness in net and were about to head into the season with largely unproven Michael Hutchinson backing up Ondrej Pavelec. That changed Sunday, however, when the Jets traded Eric Tangradi to the Montreal Canadiens for goaltender Peter Budaj and forward Patrick Holland.

Budaj had been battling Dustin Tokarski for the No. 2 job in Montreal, so it appears Tokarski won that backup gig and made the veteran backup expendable.

Normally, a backup goaltender getting dealt isn’t going to be terribly big news, and that’s still the case here, but given the fragility of the Jets’ goaltending situation and the fact that this is the first player-for-player trade of Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s career (seriously), it’s definitely noteworthy. Especially so when you consider that this Cheveldayoff is heading into his fourth season on the job.

Pavelec had one of the worst save percentages among primary starters in the NHL last year with a .901 mark. Hutchinson, who shined in just three NHL appearances last season, is just 24 and probably needs some more time in the minors before making the jump.

By adding Budaj, the Jets have a serviceable veteran with starter experience. Though he provides a secondary option for the club, it’s hard to see Budaj pushing Pavelec for starts along the way. So he’s also kind of non-threatening.

Over nine NHL seasons between the Colorado Avalanche and Canadiens, Budaj has a career .903 save percentage to go along with a 124-107-36 record and 2.76 career goals-against average.

The forwards involved in the deal, Eric Tangradi and Patrick Holland, are probably not going to be much more than minor league depth players for their new organizations. Tangradi does have 136 games of NHL experience, but was recently waived by the Jets and cleared.

Holland, meanwhile, still has a little upside to try and tap into at age 22. He had 109 points in his last WHL season, but has struggled to find that scoring touch at the AHL level and he’s already bounced around a few organizations.

Cheveldayoff has made 15 trades prior to Sunday as Jets GM, according to NHLTradeTracker.com. None of those included an NHL player for NHL player in the trade. Even though Tangradi is headed to the minors this year, he's an NHL veteran, so we're counting it.

Considering the situation the Jets have been in as far as the standings go since returning to Winnipeg, that sort of inactivity has been one of the primary criticisms of the first-time general manager. 

Meanwhile, this deal is great news for new full-time Hab Dustin Tokarski, who has gotten little nibbles at the NHL over the last three years. Last season, he got into five regular-season games. He was then called into action when Carey Price was injured in the Eastern Conference Final. Considering the situation, Tokarski performed admirably with a 2-3 record, .916 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against average in five games against the New York Rangers.

Having a solid backup netminder never seems like it’s that important, but as Price’s injury in the playoffs last year showed, having a little extra security doesn’t hurt. Both teams are likely to benefit from this somewhat minor trade.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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