Following a stellar 2017-18 season that saw him nominated for the Vezina trophy, it’s a pretty safe bet that Connor Hellebuyck will be the starting goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets this season.
However, once you get beyond the starter, the picture gets far less certain. With the departure of Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson in the off-season, the Jets lack a truly bona fide backup. There are four other goalies in training camp this year, with a whopping total of 35 NHL games between them.
Today we take a look at who’s who between the pipes, and project just how they’ll be sorted once things settle following training camp and pre-season.
#37 Connor Hellebuyck (25) 6’3” 202 lbs
2017-18: 14GP - 44-11-9 - 2.36GAA - .924 SV% - 6 SO
2018 Playoffs: 17GP - 9-8-0 - 2.36GAA - .922 SV% - 2 SO
Career: 149 GP - 83-41-14 - 2.55GAA - .917 SV% - 12 SO
Connor Hellebuyck could allow every shot he sees in the pre-season and still be this teams starter. There would probably be some questions, but his play last year in both the regular season and the playoffs gets him the nod.
After looking like he was going to be 1B at best at the start of last year, Hellebuyck took the starting spot for his own early on and never looked back. As a result, he earned himself a big old raise, as he will now make an average of $6,166,666 for the next six years.
Will he be able to maintain these numbers in his third full year in the league? Time will tell.
#30 Laurent Brossoit (25) 6’3” 202 lbs
2017-18: 14GP - 3-7-1 - 3.24GAA - .883 SV% - 0 SO
Career: 28 GP - 7-13-2 - 2.98GAA - .897 SV% - 0 SO
Brossoit and Hellebuyck spent time at the NET360 goalie training camp in Kelowna this August, working on their respective games. It’s the second year in a row that Hellebuyck attended, with Brossoit having been several times himself.
Brossoit is the odds on favourite to land the backup job, if only for his experience at the NHL level. While his 28 career games and 1,432 minutes in net is not a lot, it is still substantially more than the 240 minutes Eric Comrie has seen. Brossoit will still not just be given the backup spot, as his numbers last year and to this point in his career show that he can be beaten.
Brossoit is not waivers exempt, and is on a one-way contract, which also gives him an edge over counterparts that can be sent down without risk, and who see a pay decrease in the minors.
AHL Starter/First Call-Up
#1 Eric Comrie (23) 6’1” 175 lbs
2017-18: 3 GP - 1-2-0 - 3.99GAA - .872 SV% - 0 SO
Career: 4 GP - 2-2-0 - 4.00GAA - .880 SV% - 0 SO
AHL 2017-18: 34 GP - 18-13-6 - 2.58GAA - .916 SV% - 2 SO
AHL Career: 136 GP - 52-67-26 - 2.95GAA - .908 SV% - 6 SO
Eric Comrie recently signed his second pro contract, a one-year, two-way deal. Still being waivers exempt, and not exactly dominating in his NHL opportunities, he will likely be the first call-up in the even of injury or horrible play.
Comrie is likely to face a similar situation to last year, though I have some doubts his AHL partner puts up the numbers that Michael Hutchinson did last year, but we’ll get to the new guy in a moment. This is another contract year for Comrie, and arguably more important than last year, as the question will once again be ‘can he play at the NHL level, or not?’.
#50 Ken Appleby (23) 6’4” 210 lbs
NHL 2017-18/Career: 3 GP - 0-1-0 - 1.45GAA - .945 SV% - 0 SO
AHL 2017-18: 26 GP - 10-13-4 - 2.76GAA - .901 SV% - 2 SO
AHL Career: 66 GP - 30-30-5 - 2.67GAA - .902 SV% - 3 SO
After being part of the New Jersey Devils’ organization for the last three years, Appleby signed an AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose on July 3.
His AHL numbers to this point have been less than stellar, but in his brief cameo in the NHL last year, he put up solid figures of a 1.45 GAA and a .945 save percentage.
Appleby is attending Jets camp. How much game time (if any) he sees in the pre-season remains to be seen, but the Jets will hope he can carry the load at the AHL level should Comrie be called up for long stretches.
ECHL Starter/Second Call-Up
The Winnipeg Jets have signed 20 year old goaltender Mikhail Berdin to a three year ELC. Berdin was a 6th round pick in 2016 who has put up strong numbers in the USHL.— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) May 19, 2018
You might also remember his hilarious goal celebration here: https://t.co/EtmJCkCWio
Yea, I don’t have a photo to show of him...yet.
#60 Mikhail Berdin (20) 6’3” 180 lbs
USHL 2017-18: 45 GP - 24-13-3 - 2.65GAA - .921 SV% - 1 SO
USHL Career: 76 GP - 38-25-9 - 2.68GAA - .922 SV% - 3 SO
Mikhail Berdin begins his professional career this season, having signed his entry-level deal back in May.
Berdin had a bit of a rough Young Stars tournament, as the Vancouver Canucks got the better of him on numerous occasions. He’ll have to bounce back from that quickly, and have a strong training camp if he wants to play in the AHL to start the year. At this point, I foresee him starting out with the Jacksonville Icemen.
Of course, I could be way off in my predictions. If you have different opinions, or if you agree and want to tell me, leave a comment below.