In many ways it is unsurprising to see Tokarski get dealt. The once upstart backup who claimed Peter Budaj's spot, winning the job with an outstanding performance in the 2014 semifinals against the Rangers, slowly saw his stock fall over the last year. In turn, he lost the backup role this season to Mike Condon, after a difficult showing in the 2014-15 campaign.
After clearing waivers and beginning the season with the AHL's St. John's IceCaps, Tokarski was given another opportunity to play in the NHL when Carey Price was injured in November. When both he and Condon struggled in December, General Manager Marc Bergevin acquired Ben Scrivens from the Edmonton Oilers, and it was Tokarski who found himself relegated back to the AHL.
With the acquisition of Scrivens, there was a surplus of goaltenders in the system, with Tokarski, Zachary Fucale, and Eddie Pasquale competing for time in the AHL. Despite his superior stats, Pasquale was the one loaned to the ECHL's Brampton Beast, as he is the only one of the three on an AHL contract.
Moving Tokarski will allow Pasquale to return to the AHL, giving the IceCaps the best options in goal for the remainder of the season.
In return, the Canadiens acquire Swedish forward Friberg, who has enjoyed the greatest success in his career during the IIHf's annual under-20 tournament, scoring two goals In the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship, and being one of the major contributors to Team Sweden's performance in 2012, scoring nine goals on the way to a gold medal.
He was drafted in the fifth round by Anaheim in 2011, but has seen limited NHL time since coming over from Sweden in 2013.
What Friberg lacks in size, standing at 5'10", he makes up in heart, always willing to block a shot and not afraid to get physical, and plays on both the penalty kill and the power play units.
With the Norfolk Admirals and San Diego Gulls, he was the alternate captain, and lauded as a likeable person who took his career seriously; in other words: a character player who fits the profile that Marc Bergevin seeks out. He was up with the Ducks as recently as late December, but was sent back down to the AHL prior to the Christmas break.
Friberg signed a two-year extension this past summer with the Ducks, with an NHL cap hit of $632,500. At the expiry of his contract he will remain a restricted free agent.
Friberg will report to the IceCaps where he should be able to offer an offensive boost to the squad. The left-wing depth is starting to get a bit bloated with Lucas Lessio, Michael Bournival, Brandon McNally, Mark MacMillan, Tim Bozon, and Connor Crisp all trying to claim spots, not to mention Jacob de la Rose and Charles Hudon who have recently transitioned from left wing to center for the IceCaps.
We don't have a big enough body of work at the NHL level to perform an in-depth analysis of his performance at the top level, but based on his AHL numbers, it is clear that he possesses some goal-scoring abilities. Not only that, he figures to be a decent setup man as well, as he has racked up fairly impressive assist totals.
This deal is definitely a win for the Canadiens, albeit a small one. Once Price returns, one of Scrivens or Condon will claim the backup role, so Tokarski's loss will not effect the NHL roster. Getting a potential goal-scorer for a redundant asset is a good move for the organization
What they get in Friberg is a player with very little NHL experience, but who has scored 40 points in the AHL in each of the last two seasons, and appears to have solid offensive upside. Whether he can develop into a regular NHLer remains to be seen.
At the very least, this deal provides St. John's with a scoring boost right now, and the Canadiens with another insurance option to call up if the need arises. A solid minor deal for Marc Bergevin to say the least.