Veteran goaltender Peter Budaj has decided to call it a career at the end of the season, the Kings announced (Twitter link). The 36-year-old is wrapping up his second stint with Los Angeles after being acquired for Andy Andreoff last offseason.
Budaj was a highly-promising prospect to start his career. Colorado drafted him in the second round back in 2001 and he followed up three strong seasons with Toronto of the OHL with three full campaigns at the minor league level in Hershey before joining the Avalanche on a full-time basis in 2005-06.
However, his time with the Avs was marked with inconsistency. At times, he looked like their legitimate goalie of the future but struggled at other times as well. As a result, he was never given the number one job on a full-time basis and after six seasons with the team, he left for Montreal in free agency, going to a situation where he was the clear number two.
In his third season with the Canadiens, Budaj was not called upon to take over as the starter in the postseason when Carey Price was injured as they instead went with Dustin Tokarski. That paved the way for his departure and he was ultimately flipped to Winnipeg the following year after clearing waivers, where he spent the entire season in the minors.
Rather than opt to return back to his native Slovakia, Budaj decided to stick it out in North America, signing a pair of two-way deals with the Kings. The move turned out to be a shrewd one as in his second season with the team (2016-17), Jonathan Quick was injured early in the year which put Budaj into the starting job quite quickly. He responded with a career season, playing to a career-best 2.17 GAA before being included as filler in the trade deadline deal to acquire Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay.
His success that season was enough to land a two-year, one-way contract that summer, one that expires in July. While he has spent a good chunk of time since then in the minors, he has seen limited NHL action in each of the last two seasons.
Budaj wraps up his playing days with 370 career NHL regular season appearances with four different teams, posting a 2.70 GAA along with a .904 save percentage. Between that and nearly $12MM in career earnings, per CapFriendly, he wraps up what wound up being a solid career, even if he was never able to ascend to the number one role like Colorado had hoped for a decade ago.