Dustin Tokarski is more than just the secret shame of Pierre McGuire.
He's more than a goalie whose pugilism skills make Ryan White concerned for his job.
Tokarski is a legitimate goaltending prospect that is best known for elevating his play in the playoffs. Jon Cooper coached him in Norfolk and Syracuse and said, "He's won everywhere he's gone". Cooper also commented on losing a proven winner like Tokarski,"I have a lot of faith in Dustin. It was sad to see him go. I understand the trade. I hope this is a situation Ticker can prosper in."
Tokarski won the Calder Cup with Norfolk last year, in 2009 he led Canada to a Word Junior Gold Medal, the prior year he was part of a Spokane Chiefs team that won the Memorial Cup. Even as a youth Tokarski was a winner, leading his team to a Canadian Midget National Championship.
Tokarski struggled this season posting only a .900 SV% to go along with a 2.46 GAA in 33 games with the Syrcause Crunch. The impressive part of Tokarski's goaltending resume has never been the regular season, it has always been how he elevates his game in the playoffs.
During last years Calder Cup season he started 21 games and ended with a .944 SV% and a stingy 1.58 GAA. Much better than his regular season, where he posted a modest 2.23 GAA and .913 SV%.
In his Memorial Cup season, Tokarski played 21 WHL Playoff games, posting an impressive .940 SV% and 1.38 GAA, in the Memorial Cup tournament he went 4-0 and posted a 1.72 GAA.
Goalies typically take longer to develop, the fact Tokarski has respectable numbers at just 23 years old is a nice sign for the young net-minder. HIs impressive playoff resume also makes him an interesting guy to watch.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman doesn't think Tokarski is ready to make the jump right now, "In the event that we needed to recall a goalie due to injury this year, we weren't comfortable with our options right now," Yzerman said about the Tokarski trade. This is a peculiar comment from Yzerman, because in the past two years Tokarski played in a combined 7 games for the Lighting, and this was in the 09/10, and 11/12 seasons, strange that Yzerman would feel this way after Tokarski is coming off his best season.
The Canadiens don't have to worry about rushing Tokarski to the NHL level, they have already excersised the option of calling up Mayer (though he only sat on the bench while Price was out with flu) in injury situations. Going into this season some fans penciled in Desjardins to challenge Budaj for the backup job, Lightning fans may feel the same, but if he wasn't able to dethrone Peter Budaj, what are the chances he can outplay Mathieu Garon?
Overall, this trade has a huge upside for the Canadiens who get a younger prospect with more NHL potential. At 23 Tokarski has been involved in 5 more NHL games than Desjardins has at 27, though Desjardins two NHL starts were impressive, he has yet to get another crack at an NHL roster.
Desjardins and Tokarski have some history playing together, in 2010/11 both players were on the Norfolk Admirals roster. During that season, Tokarski became the starter over Desjardins, after an injured right shoulder limited him to 24 AHL games and 2 NHL games. Tokarski started 46 games that season.
Tokarski is a little undersized for a modern goalie at 5'11", but he makes up for it with solid positioning and good speed. He may never realize the potential heaped upon him as a second round draft pick, but it's very possible that Tokarski could become a solid NHL backup.