In the end it came down to who was the better goaltender.
The Canadiens traded Peter Budaj to the Winnipeg Jets along with forward Patrick Holland in return for depth forward Eric Tangradi. Tangradi immediately reported to the Hamilton Bulldog.
There are still 25 players in training camp including defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Francis Bouillon plus forward Jacob de la Rose. Decisions in this regard are being delayed by Lars Eller’s apparent groin injury, which is still being called ‘minor’ by the coaching staff. NHL teams must post their 23 player season opening roster by Tuesday.
The trade was strictly business for Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who was forced to ignore Budaj’s popularity in the dressing room for hockey reality. Budaj was only so-so in his final training camp appearance on Friday night in Ottawa while Dustin Tokarski had an excellent pre-season highlighted by his game in Quebec City in which he backstopped a rookie-filled Canadiens team to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Although it is hardly an issue with the Habs, the trade reduces the Canadiens salary cap by nearly a million dollars. With the deal they have just 3.5 million dollars cap flexibility. Budaj enters his final contract year at 1.4 million dollars. Tokarski, who is signed through next season at $562,500.
The Jets asked waivers on the 6’4” 220 lb. Tangradi on Friday and after he cleared on Saturday, assigned him to their St. John’s Newfoundland farm team. The Hamilton Bulldogs played an exhibition game against the Winnipeg AHL affiliate in St. John’s Sunday afternoon. Tangradi and Holland simply switched dressing rooms for the game.
Holland has appeared in five NHL games and recorded 45 points in 126 games for the Bulldogs over the last two seasons. He recorded 109 points for the Tri-City Americans during the 2011-12 WHL season.
Tangradi meanwhile has played in 155 NHL games since he was taken by Pittsburgh in the 2007 draft. The Jets acquired him from Pittsburgh in 2013 for a seventh round draft choice. In 55 games with Winnipeg last season he recorded three goals and six points. As an NHLer he was considered a fairly reliable fourth line left wing. If you’re interested in advanced stats, you can see Arctic Ice Hockey’s analysis of Tangradi here.