HabsWorld.net -- 

Last week, we looked at some of the
possible destinations
for one of Montreal’s backup goalies and unfortunately for the Habs there aren’t
many options at the moment.  Finding a potential trade partner is only half
of the battle though as they also have to determine who to keep between Peter
Budaj and Dustin Tokarski.  Which one should be kept around?

Matt Dilworth: Nothing against Peter Budaj, but I think the
obvious choice is to keep Dustin Tokarski. Budaj has shown time and time again
to be an ideal backup; he’s got a great attitude, is seemingly content with
playing ten games a year, and is typically sharp in the games that he does suit
up for. Unfortunately, that’s all they can count on him for, as Budaj has shown
twice now that he’s incapable of elevating his game to starter-status when Carey
Price is injured. Tokarski, however, has impressed in his few games with the
Habs (as well as playing well in the AHL), and has clearly won the trust of the
coaching staff in must-win situations. Although I’d prefer to see Tokarski
staying sharp and getting a lot of playing time in the AHL, I’d pick him over
Budaj if I had to choose one to keep. The bottom-line is this: Tokarski gives
the Canadiens a better chance to win, and Montreal has to go with the players
that do this.

Brian La Rose: While Tokarski still has some upside, it’s not
as if he’s a future starter in the making.  If all goes well he can be a
backup at this level, much like Budaj can.  Thus, you trade whichever one
that yields the best return.  Tokarski is cheaper than Budaj but the Habs
are far enough under the cap right now that it shouldn’t be a big factor in
deciding who to deal.

If they can’t find a taker for either one via trade, I’d keep Budaj as the
backup and decide based on the rest of the roster battles as to whether or not
to keep Tokarski on as the third string goalie (and wait for a team to get an
injury to try to make a trade) or to risk running him through waivers.  If
he gets claimed (and given how few teams are looking for backups right now, it
probably isn’t a given that he would), it’s not the end of the world as they can
surely find another backup for Price for 2015-16 if they decide to let Budaj
walk at the end of next season. 

Alex Létourneau: I’d trade Tokarski, immediately. Every day
that passes is an extra day where people may forget his heroics against the New
York Rangers. It was truly a stunning run by Tokarski and it did extend the
Canadiens’ playoff run by a few games but smart business is buy low, sell high.
His stock will likely never be higher. Furthermore, I’d say that the locker room
leadership has taken a bit of a hit in recent days. Trading Peter Budaj would be
another massive hit to that locker room. By all accounts, Budaj’s a terrific
teammate who accepts and enjoys his role as Carey Price’s backup. They seem to
have a good working relationship together, don’t kick him while he’s down after
having lost one of his buddies in Josh Gorges.

While Tokarski was lights out in that Rangers series, he was battling the
puck for its entirety. His rebound control and time management was terrible. It
would appear Stephane Waite would have to put in more time with a raw Tokarski,
should he get the nod as Price’s backup. Ultimately, I would keep Budaj, but
that Tokarski contract extension and how he was immediately given the net
against New York spells out a likely trade for Budaj.

Kevin Meldrum: I’d keep Dustin Tokarski for sure.  This
kid wins and he would never clear waivers; unless he is packaged in a deal to
bring a legitimate top-six forward it’s an easy decision to keep him over Budaj.

Norm Szcyrek: I believe that Tokarski has more upside and more
trade value but I feel that keeping him in the organization may block the way
for Zach Fucale a few seasons from now. Budaj is really well liked with his
teammates, and seems to play well when he knows the Carey Price is sitting on
the bench ready to bail him out. But the few times when Price has not been
available because of injury, Budaj has played poorly in relief. This season,
Tokarski played really well in relief when Price was on the IR. There’s no doubt
that other teams noticed Tokarski’s stellar play in the postseason. If the Habs
management agree that Tokarski has a higher value after the playoffs, then they
should look for a way to move him to get a decent return.