The Montreal Canadiens had a logjam in goal following the acquisition of Ben Scrivens, but they cleared some room Thursday by sending netminder Dustin Tokarski to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for winger Max Friberg.
Before the season began, Tokarski seemed a lock to backup Carey Price but was beaten for the gig by Mike Condon. With Condon filling out the backup role, Tokarski had spent most of his season in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps and had only started four games with Price on the shelf. Over six total outings, he posted a 1-3-0 record, 3.18 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.
The depth chart in Montreal was only getting more crowded and Tokarski wasn’t having a great season in the AHL either. Rookie Zach Fucale was outplaying him in St. John’s and Eddie Pasquale was a more than capable backup netminder for the IceCaps, making Tokarski expendable. When Price returns, too, the Canadiens will have to make a choice about which of Scrivens or Condon to demote. There would have been no way for the IceCaps to carry four netminders.
In exchange for Tokarski, the Canadiens land winger Max Friberg. The 23-year-old was a fifth-round pick, 143rd overall, by the Ducks at the 2011 draft and has spent most of his professional career playing in the AHL. Over the past two seasons, Friberg has played six games in Anaheim but has averaged less than nine minutes of playing time over the span.
Friberg has been a consistent scorer in the AHL, however. In 163 games with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate — first the Norfolk Admirals and this season the San Diego Gulls — Friberg scored 38 goals and 98 points. The trade will see him head straight to the IceCaps.
Realistically, this will be an AHL move for both teams. Though Anaheim netminder John Gibson left Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an apparent leg injury, he was attending practice Thursday and could be back in the lineup by the weekend. The Ducks have yet to recall a goaltender from the AHL, and Tokarski will be reporting to the AHL’s Gulls where he’ll likely split time with Anton Khudobin.
As far as salary implications, the deal won’t impact either team greatly. There’s a difference of $25,000 in salary between the two players — Friberg’s $587,500 cap hit is the higher of the two — and Tokarski is set to become a restricted free agent at season’s end. Friberg will become a restricted free agent following the 2016-17 season.