The Habs have found their backup for Carey Price for the next 2 seasons,
signing G Peter Budaj, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche. The deal is
worth $2.3 million in total; he will earn $1.1 million in 2011-12 and $1.2
million in 2012-13. Budaj has spent his entire 6 year career with the
Avalanche after being a 2nd round pick (63rd overall) back in 2001.
Budaj, who turns 29 in September, struggled last season with Colorado,
posting a 15-21-4 record with a 3.20 GAA and a .895 SV% in 45 games with 1
shutout. His game total likely endeared him to the Habs as he has averaged
just over 40 appearances per season in the NHL, providing them with a bit more
of a safety blanket if Price were to go down with an injury.
He also has experience on the international stage as he has represented the
Slovaks in a pair of World Championships, plus a pair of Olympics (though he
didn’t play in 2010). In the 2009-10 World Championships, he was named one
of Slovakia’s top-3 players. He also has been a member of a pair of World
Junior squads and one World Cup team.
The contract represents a brief paycut for the netminder as he made $1.25
million in each of the past two seasons. In our UFA
preview, we had Budaj pegged to get between $1.2 and $1.6 million. The
Habs now have roughly $51.5 million committed to next season’s payroll which
includes 10 forwards, 6 defencemen, plus the 2 goalies. Josh Gorges and
Ryan White remain the lone RFA’s for Pierre Gauthier to sign which means there
is still some room to add another free agent.