Budaj, 34, finished the season with Tampa Bay last year after being acquired as part of the deal that sent Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings. In seven appearances with the Lightning, the veteran netminder posted a 3-1-0 record, 2.80 goals-against average, and .898 save percentage. The numbers don't exactly jump off the page as superb or worthy of a multi-year deal, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is obviously hoping that Budaj can recapture some of the magic that saw him lead the Kings for most of the 2016-17 campaign. What the Bolts are hoping to avoid, though, is the sort of goaltending that saw Budaj become a fringe NHLer during 2014-15 and 2015-16.Two-year extension for TB netminder Petr Budaj, who has agreed to terms on a deal with an AAV of $1.025M.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2017
Of course, the ultimate hope is that the Lightning won't need to rely on Budaj for regular or extended services over the next two years. Andrei Vasilevskiy is and will be the number-one goaltender for this group. The fact that he and Budaj seemingly gelled from a personality standpoint during their brief time together last year almost certainly weighed into Yzerman's decision to offer the extension. Vasilevskiy, 22, went 23-17-8 in 50 appearances last season, and sported a 2.61 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He's more than capable of taking the number-one job and running with it.
While there may be "better" backup goalie options out on the market when the clock strikes July 1, the Lightning are sticking with what's comfortable by agreeing to terms with Budaj. He may not be the best option available, but I'd go as far as to wager that he's not the worst either. The most important thing for this organization right now is giving Vasilevskiy the tools, both physically and emotionally, to succeed. If Budaj and his presence and experience can be part of that equation, this move could prove to be a very good one. The only other thing Budaj has to do is go out there on an occasional basis and give the squad in front of him something that at least moderately resembles a chance to eke out a win.
As always, thanks for reading.