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Budaj Will Start Saturday In San Jose

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The biggest Avalanche news on Friday came before the team had even taken the ice for practice, as the club announced it had acquired goalie Brian Elliott from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for netminder Craig Anderson.

Following practice, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco commented on the team’s newest addition.

“I know that he’s a proven goaltender at the young age of 25,” said Sacco. “[He] had a really good season last year, helped his team get to the playoffs and has a bright future ahead of him. We’re really excited to have him join our team and join our organization.

“I think for both parties it was the right move. Craig gets a fresh start there and Brian gets a fresh start here.”

Elliott will not join the team for its game tomorrow against San Jose because he has to deal with the immigration process. However, when Elliott is available, Sacco said it will be an open competition between him and Peter Budaj for the starter’s role.

“The job is open,” said Sacco. “There will be some competition, obviously, for that spot. Obviously we’re going to give Brian an opportunity to see where he’s at and how he fits in, and give him a chance to play as well. We’re in a situation where we’re looking for results right now.”

Elliott is expected to join the team next week. Peter Budaj will start Saturday against the Sharks.

A Closer Look At Elliott
After being selected by Ottawa with the second to last overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (ninth round, 291st overall), Elliott went on to play four years of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin, where he appeared in just 15 games during his first two seasons before enjoying a breakout campaign in 2005-06.

That year, he posted a 27-5-3 record with a 1.55 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage while leading Wisconsin to the national title. He also earned Hobey Hat Trick honors as one of three finalists for college hockey’s top player.

Elliott spent most of 2007-08, his first professional campaign, with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, but also made his NHL debut by playing in one contest for Ottawa. He then split the 2008-09 season equally between Binghamton (30 games) and Ottawa (31 games), posting a 16-8-3 mark with a 2.77 goals-against average at the NHL level.

The Newmarket, Ontario native came into his own as Ottawa’s full-time starter a season ago. Elliott started 55 games for the Senators and recorded a 29-18-4 mark with five shutouts to lead the team to a postseason berth.

Getting the Call
In addition to the Elliott/Anderson trade, Colorado made two other roster moves on Friday. The club recalled forward Ryan Stoa and goaltender John Grahame from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

Stoa’s recall is his second of the season. The Bloomington, Minn., native was previously summoned from the Monsters on Jan. 19 and appeared in six games with the Avalanche. Stoa scored two goals – including the game-winner on Jan. 24 against St. Louis – and recorded four penalty minutes before being reassigned on Feb. 5.

Grahame has now been recalled from Lake Erie on three separate occasions this season, but has yet to see NHL action. He was first recalled by the Avalanche on Oct. 28 and reassigned on Nov. 18. Earlier this month, he was brought up from Lake Erie on Feb. 10 and then rejoined the Monsters on Feb. 13.

In 26 AHL games this season, the Denver native has posted a 14-9-2 record with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Grahame’s last NHL appearance was March 14, 2008 at Buffalo as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Odds And Ends
Matt Duchene again went through a number of skating drills this morning in an effort to keep up his conditioning while he recovers from a hand injury…Duchene, who is out indefinitely, was joined on the ice by Avalanche Video/Development Coach Adam Deadmarsh…Brandon Yip didn’t practice today, but Sacco said the forward will be available for Saturday’s game.
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