Final Grade: B+
Midseason Grade: B+
Season Stats: 57 GP, 3198.56 Min, 2.68 GAA, 31 W, 11 L, 6 OTL, 3 SO, .905 Sv%
1st Half: 22 GP, 1222.07 Min, 2.41 GAA, .910 Sv%
2nd Half: 35 GP, 1975.65 Min, 2.85 GAA, .901 Sv%
In his 2nd NHL season, Budaj sent career highs in everything: GP (57), Minutes (3199), Shutouts (3), GAA (2.68) and Save Percentage (.905). His 31 wins were his most as a pro (previous high was 29 in 04-05 with Hershey). Budaj became just the 3rd player in franchise history to record 30 wins and set a franchise record on with 16 consecutive decisions without a regulation loss.
Report: Budaj started the season as the backup, but had taken the starting job around 30 games in...Started 39 of the last 46 games and 17 of the last 19...Generally seemed to be solid and consistent in net...Didn't vary much from his norm – not a ton of bad games or great games...That's a good quality in my book...Generally, this team just needs a guy to keep them in games, not to win them on his own...Certainly did steal a few games, but those were more the exception than the rule...Is reported to be a student of the game, and his excellent positioning seems to lend credence to that...I noticed a few times where he was ready for a set play the other team was running, while other Avs on the ice were oblivious (the Flames' weakside Huselius pass, for example)...Doesn't have to rely on the flashy save, because he always seems to be in the right spot...Good at controlling rebounds as well...Won't be confused with Brodeur or Turco when handling the puck, but doesn't embarrass himself in that area...Seems to possess a good demeanor – rebounded well from the few tough games he had...Improved his performance in shootouts this year, but still could be better there
Fast Fact: Budaj was 8-2-2 with one shutout in games where he faced 32 shots or more.
2007-2007 Salary: $600,000
2007-2008 Status: $700,000
Outlook: Budaj has progressed beyond expectations. Two seasons ago, he seemed to project out as a solid NHL backup. Now, he's looking like #1 material and, barring a shocking move from the franchise, will go into next season as the starter. It's possible he could slip back a bit in his development with the added pressure, but I really believe he is going to be the guy in Colorado for many years.