Safe to say that Laurent Brossoit has been a bit of a revelation this season for the Winnipeg Jets.
When he signed with the Jets on July 1 of 2017, many fans rolled their eyes at such a bargin bin pickup if they even gave it a second thought at all. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff had recently just traded Steve Mason and his $4.5 million dollar contract to the Montreal Canadiens (along with Joel Armia) in what was strictly a Salary Cap move to give the Jets some breathing space.
The trade left the Jets without a clear cut viable NHL backup for Connor Hellebuyck who had just come off a very successful 2017-18 season was also considered to be worked a little too much due to injuries suffered by both Mason and Michael Hutchinson who also left the Jets in the summer of 2018.
With the free agent market thin and prospects for a trade very low, the Jets took a flyer on the 25 year old Brossoit. Brossoit up until that point had seven career NHL victories and things had gotten to the point where the Oilers felt he was better off in Bakersfield of the AHL to close out the previous season.
But Cheveldayoff and scouts must have seen something no one else did, not to mention word quickly got out that Brossoit was sharing ice with Hellebuyck as they both trained with noted goalie guru Adam Francilia at the NET360 program (the same guy credited with helping Hellebuyck turn things around a season prior) but still, no one could have possibly predicted this.
A 10-1-1 record and a .943 save percentage – his lone loss was in a relief effort against the Calgary Flames in a game already well lost before be came in. His 43 save victory last night over the Vegas Golden Knights could be seen as a huge test passed against a high quality opponent.
Safe to say Brossoit’s performance has been a huge relief to the Jets and their fans, but it also further complicates a balanced perception between the role Brossoit as a backup goalie and Hellebuyck as the team’s number top guy.
Hellebuyck as has been noted hasn’t exactly been his former Vezina worthy self this season and as hockey fans are want to do, when there is a goalie with better looking numbers that has played less available, the cries for him to get more starts if not outright take over as the team’s number one man become louder and louder.
If you were Paul Maurice and pulling the strings on who gets the call even night in goal, what would you do?
Do you continue to do what has been done, giving Hellebuyck the lion’s share of starts and putting Brossoit in once every five or six games?) Maybe you start doing more of a platoon share where Helle gets two or three in a row and then Brossoit comes in for a start.
Or do you go crazy and hand the keys to Laurent and see what he does with multiple starts in a row?
And where does the future factor into all this? Brossoit’s contract is up at the end of this season and he’s certainly going to get a raise now – he’s earned it without question. Should the Jets try to trade him for an asset at the deadline and lean on Eric Comrie as a possible playoff backup? Should Cheveldayoff look to re-sign him this summer and fit him under the cap?
It’s a great situation the Jets find themselves in with Laurent Brossoit, but one with multiple answers available, not all of them being correct or ideal and room for only one real direction going forward. Which path would you take with LB?