Peter Budaj: The Most Important Av?

[Promoted to the front page from the diaries, with a poll added. --Joe]

Can Budaj get the job done?

Peter Budaj
I don't think there's any doubt that Jose Theodore is not the answer at goal for the Avs, but the question of whether Peter Budaj is the answer remains open.  His play down the stretch of the season deserved as much of the credit for The Streak as any other factor.  However, by the same logic, his less than stellar play earlier in the season didn't do the team any favors either.  With this in mind, it's not a stretch to call him the X factor of the upcoming season for the Avs.  

The Avs look very solid top to bottom with their forwards, and the defense promises to be much improved, with Patrice Brisbois and Ossi Vaananen gone and Jordan Leopold, Jeff Finger, and Scott Hannan in.  But without good goaltending, the improved roster may be for naught.  Who will we see, the Budaj of the last 20 games of the season?  Or the one that struggled with consistency in the first 60 games?

In my humble opinion, Budaj's positioning is very solid and I like the way he sees the puck.  He's also got good quickness and reacts to what he sees well.  However, I worry that he's not quick enough to be an elite goaltender and that his anticipation of plays is lacking as well.  He seemed to respond well when given more consistent playing time, but 20 games of solid play is hardly a confidence inducing sample set.  Will he continue to develop?  Can he be the strong #1 the Avs have lacked since Roy?  I think he could be, but it's a tough risk to take, considering how loaded the team is elsewhere.  And let's not forget Sakic isn't sticking around forever.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Which leads me to my question:  Ilya Bryzgalov is available from the Ducks, and I would consider him a much more proven commodity than Budaj.  His stats are better than Budaj's, and while I'm not watching the Ducks every night, I've still seen him play very solidly and also read the play to make that game-changing save Budaj so often doesn't make.  On the other hand, he's a UFA after this year, and there's no promises he'd sign with the team trading for him (see: Ryan Smyth).  I bet you could talk the Ducks into some combo of, say, Budaj/Liles/Svatos/draft picks.

If I was Francois Giguere, I'd probably pull the trigger on a deal for Bryzgalov and maybe a pick if it only cost me Budaj and Svatos AND I had agreed to an extension with Bryzgalov.  This makes sense for the Ducks -- they get a good, inexpensive backup and a scoring winger to replace Penner, and possibly Selanne.  

From my perspective, Budaj is probably going to be a solid #1 in this league, but he may not be ready yet, and he may not ever be.  Svatos is a decent scoring winger for a team's second line, but he simply doesn't have a place on this team this year.  In all honesty, barring a rash of injuries, he'll probably spend this year on the 3rd and 4th lines, and continue to lose confidence.  It's my opinion he's hit his ceiling as a player -- think Radim Vrbata.  He's a one-dimensional, 20ish goal scorer -- provided he has teammates that can distribute to him.  The Avs can do better -- and I think they have better in the system already.  But I digress, this post is about Bryzgalov and Budaj, not Svatos.

What say you folks, is a trade for Bryzgalov worth it?  Will Budaj be able to handle the goaltending duties for this team this year?  Is sticking with Budaj a worthwhile risk? is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of

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