Is Dustin Tokarski St. John’s Bound?

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

It is interesting how the mighty can fall. In two years, you can go from an absolute hero to scapegoat. In professional hockey cities, especially Montreal, this is nothing new. It seems like yesterday that the main man in Montreal went down, and a new hero had to arise. That hero being Dustin Tokarski, and his defining moment being the Eastern Conference Finals in May of 2014 against the Rangers. The situation now, is very similar to the situation that brought Tokarski to notoriety. When Carey Price sustained his injury, the Habs had a decent back-up in Peter Budaj. However, the job went to then rookie Tokarski, who had been a winner in every league he’d previously been in. This move would mark the end of Budaj’s time in Montreal, who would be traded to the Winnipeg Jets in the offseason with Patrick Holland for Eric Tangradi.

During that series against New York, it seemed that Tokarski would be a younger, more talented version of Budaj, who was regressing at that point in time. Furthermore, the right decision was made, as Budaj is currently in the Kings organization trying to earn another chance in the NHL, but I digress. Tokarski came into last season with high expectations, I won’t get into stats, but although he was an average back-up goalie, it was no where near the quality fans expected. While these expectations may not have been fair, Tokarski should have been better.

Photo: Johany Jutras, JdeM

Photo: Johany Jutras, JdeM

Fast-forward to present day. Enter Mike Condon, who split time in the ECHL and AHL after signing a deal with the Canadiens on May 8th, 2013. Condon has since been extended for another two years, and inked that deal on February 5th. He has impressed in preseason play, showing his ability to track pucks with ease and fantastic positioning, while Tokarski has done quite the opposite. The final preseason game in Ottawa may have been the final straw as well as the writing on the wall for the Saskatchewan native. No matter the quality of the goals in that game, 5 goals on 15 shots is inexcusable. Tokarski has struggled mightily while Condon has shined, including a 17-save shutout on September 26th. The 25-year old, Needham, MA born goalie was impressive when he played college hockey at Princeton, only to continue to be sound between the pipes for Wheeling and Hamilton. The Canadiens brass knew they weren’t making a mistake regarding the aforementioned contract above.

Now the question must be asked, who should be backing up Carey Price in Toronto on Wednesday? In my opinion, it should be Condon, he certainly proved he deserves the spot, and Tokarski proved that he simply, didn’t. Where the problem arises is that in order to send Tokarski down to St. John’s, he must go through waivers where any other team could claim him. I don’t believe that it would be an issue as of writing this, since Montreal is rather deep in net at the moment. With Condon backing up Price, and Zach Fucale with the IceCaps.

So what it really comes down to is whether or not Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien believe Condon is ready for the NHL, or feel that Tokarski is no longer able to play an adequate back-up role for their organization. Whatever the case, the Canadiens need to make a choice, and while that choice may not change much now, it could change the future, be that for better, or for worse.

 

UPDATE: Tokarski has been placed on waivers for the purpose of reassignment. Condon has won the back-up role.

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