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Lost in the Avalanche: Peter Budaj

The tenured goalie had a lengthy career with the bigfoot on his shoulder

Colorado Avalanche v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Peter Budaj was one of the most tenured Colorado Avalanche goaltenders through the 2000s. Drafted by the Avs 63rd overall in the 2001 NHL Draft, the Slovakian netminder started his career in the OHL in Toronto.

From 1999 to 2002, he played for the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors consistently playing 34-42 games a year. At the start of the 2002/03 season, he was promoted to the AHL to the Hershey Bears.

While only playing 28 games in his first season, he became more tenured and present in his crease. His save percentage increased from .911 to .919 in his three seasons for the Bears. in 2004/05, he had a positive record of 29-25-2 with 2.65 GAA. Funnily enough, he recorded 17 penalty minutes this season as well.

This play captured the attention of the Avalanche, as Budaj was called up to play his first season in the NHL in 2005/06. He never looked back from here on out. In his first season, he mostly split time with David Aebischer playing 34 games with a 14-11-6 record with an even .900 save percentage.

Peter Budaj Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

His best season came the following year, with a dominant 31-16-6 record as the Avalanche starting goalie. At just 24 years old, in his 57 games that season pulled the backline together despite only having a .905 save percentage. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pull the Avs to the playoffs that season despite doing well in his net.

His best season save percentage-wise came in 2009/10, where his percentage jumped up to the highest of his career with a .917. Despite only playing 15 games that year, he did well in the 15 he played in. He did play nine minutes in the playoffs coming in for Craig Anderson in 5-0 loss in Game 5 to the San Jose Sharks.

Colorado Avalanche v St. Louis Blues Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Budaj played a total of six seasons for the Avalanche from 2005-2011. In his time with the Avs, he played 242 games with an overall 2.80 GAA and .903 save percentage. Funny enough, he recorded at least one assist in each of his six seasons in Colorado with seven total.

Budaj left Colorado as a free agent at the end of the 2010/11 season and moved North of the border to play for the Montreal Canadiens. He would play three years in Montreal as more of a backup to Carey Price. It turned his career down, as he then spent the next two years back down in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps and Ontario Reign.

Montreal Canadiens v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

In his final five years of his career, Budaj moved around both within the AHL and NHL. He spent 2015-2017 with the Los Angeles Kings backing up Johnathan Quick. He did step up to the starting role in the 2016/17 season due to a season-ending groin injury for Quick.

In the middle of that same season, Budaj moved across the country to the Tampa Bay Lightning for two more seasons backing up Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop. He only played 14 games over the two years he spent in the Sunshine State.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Finally, he went back to LA for one final season splitting time between both the Ontario Reign and Kings. He played only three games in black and silver for the Kings, with his final NHL result against the team that he started it all with. He came in relief of Calvin Petersen on November 21st, 2018 in a 7-3 loss to the Avalanche.

He retired from playing at the end of the season at 37 years old. He ended his 17 year career as a reliable backup more often than not in his career. He does stand out from his six years in Colorado but outside of there, it was a lengthy career nonetheless.

Los Angeles Kings v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

You can check out his stats from his days in the OHL to the NHL here. What do you remember about Peter Budaj? Let us know in the comments below.