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Peter Budaj and Michael Hutchinson: Who will be the back-up?

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The Winnipeg Jets made a trade that has many puzzled.

Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto

Kevin Cheveldayoff made a player for player trade today. He traded Eric Tangradi to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland.

Peter Budaj is a loveable character. He also is not a very good goalie. He does well when asked to play under 20 games in a season, but struggles beyond when stretched beyond that minimal workload. So why did Kevin Cheveldayoff trade for him and what does it say about Michael Hutchinson?

First off, everyone knew the Montreal Canadiens were going to try to trade a goaltender this summer. The problem was, the goalie they probably wanted to keep was also the one with the higher trade value (Dustin Tokarski). Marc Bergevin was comfortable in waiting it out. He waited through the summer. He waited through camp. Even when Budaj had an uneven training camp, he waited. And he got rewarded for his patience. The move is slightly more confusing from the Winnipeg Jets Perspective.

Michael Hutchinson had a really bad preseason. He was brutal. The problem with judging players based on preseason is the sample size is really small. Hutchinson could just be having a bad stretch, but because the number of games played by him, no one knows if his level of play is temporary. I am assuming his level of play is higher based on his past few seasons of work.

The cap implications (and salary implications) of this deal do not give any clarity to the trade either. Budaj makes $1.4 million for one more year. Michael Hutchinson has a two-way deal for this season, paying him $600 000 in the NHL and $150 000 in the AHL. Patrick Holland (the other player the Jets acquired for Tangradi) is in the last year of his entry level contract and will make $67 500 in the AHL. The Jets traded away Tangradi who has a one year, $700 000 contract. Assuming Budaj is kept on as the back-up, the Jets will be spending $1 617 500 on the three players. This amount goes up to $2 067 500 if they elect to send Budaj down to the AHL and keep Hutchinson as the back-up. In English, this trade offered the Jets no relief in either cap hits (it would have been $600 000 with Hutchinson) or dollars spent. So why make the trade?

The only answer I can think of is a panic reaction to a small-sample size. Michael Hutchinson has had a strong career outside of the NHL. It is not beyond reason to assume that he would bounce back to be a cheaper version of Ondrej Pavelec at the very least. Instead of giving him more of a chance to prove himself, the Jets panicked and traded for Peter Budaj. They did not have too. They are now spending $5.3 million this season on not great goaltending. Panicking almost never leads to good decisions. It seems as though the Jets have made a questionable one at best.

TL;DR: I can't really make sense of this trade, but the only way it (potentially) damages the Jets future is if Hutchinson gets lost on waivers.

**There has been some debate over if this trade counts as a NHL player for NHL player trade. After some discussion, it has been decided by 5 (five) people that it is in fact, a NHL player for NHL player trade. Glad it is not one that will greatly affect the future of the Jets (pending waiver moves/claims).**

CapGeek explains the AHL cap hit thing. The Jets would have $475 000 of Budaj on the cap if they waive him.They would have $0 of Hutchinson.