One of the more interesting notes to come out of all the details we were given yesterday when the NHL announced it’s plans to go forward with a 24 team expanded playoffs, was that each team would be limited to a total of 50 people to bring with them to the hub city they are eventually assigned to when the league is ready to resume the 2019-20 season.
Breaking it down further, when it comes to the actual player roster, Elliotte Friedman pointed out a couple of interesting tidbits:
Couple of other notes from Return-to-Play protocol: Two exhibition games per team; 28 skaters and as many goalies as you wish to carry.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 27, 2020
Expanded rosters for the post-season is nothing new to the NHL of course, the NHL has always allowed an unlimited active roster after the trade deadline. Players who have typically spent most of the season with their NHL’s farm club in the AHL can be called up to form a group known as “black aces” – players who will skate with the team (or this year likely skate on their own) and remain on standby just in case of injury, or perhaps in this case illness.
But this year is different of course. Two years ago the Jets called up 13 players after the Manitoba Moose season was done to join the team during their 2018 playoff run which brought the roster size to about 32 players in total. No team will be allowed that many players now, but the prospect of as many goalies as a team would like to bring along (within the group of 50 of course) is an interesting twist.
Most teams in the past would maybe add one more goalie to sit in the pressbox for any post season run, but then the Carolina Hurricanes and David Ayres happened.
If you need a refresher: The Carolina Hurricanes lost both goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek to injury during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs which forced the Hurricanes to lean on emergency goalie / Zamboni driver David Ayres for the third period. That night worked out well for Ayres and the Hurricanes, but with Reimer and Mrazek still nursing injuries, the Canes had to scramble for options to cover in goal and looked to Anton Forsberg and Alex Nedeljkovic to fill in.
Since that night in Toronto, NHL teams have seemed a little more sensitive to the idea of being caught without a proper solution in goal in the event of multiple injuries, and some believe just having three goalies may not be enough.
Interesting note here from Friedge: Believe some teams plan to carry four goaltenders because it's not hard to imagine another Ayres-like situation if they've only got three. https://t.co/eqgla2CgFQ
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 27, 2020
For the Winnipeg Jets, Connor Hellebuyck is clearly the number one goalie and barring any injuries will start every Jets game that matters. Laurent Brossoit as well is unquestionably the best option as backup and after a rocky start to the season has started to get back into form, posting save percentages of .933 over his last four starts from the end of January through the month of February.
But even with the Jets set in goal, there is no question that another goalie will be added, but who?
Comrie? Berdin? Both?
It isn’t a question of “if” the Jets will add a third goalie, but maybe it’s a more fair question to ask “who” if not wonder if both Eric Comrie and Mikhail Berdin will be added to the Jets postseason roster.
Eric Comrie has already had a whirlwind season, being repeatedly placed on waivers, claimed by the Arizona Coyotes, traded to the Detroit Red Wings and finding himself back in Winnipeg to play for the Moose.
Eric has gone through this crazy tour around North America this season because of Mikhail Berdin, who has rocketed up the Jets goalie depth chart over the last two seasons, going from playing with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL two seasons ago, splitting the following season between the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL and Manitoba Moose of the AHL, and outright claiming the number one spot for the Moose this season.
But for as good as Berdin has looked in the minor pros the last two seasons, he has zero NHL regular season experience. He did appear in the third period of a preseason game back in September – which coincidentally was against the Calgary Flames – and stopped all 13 shots faced and showed off some of his puck handling skills.
— JetsNation (@NHLJetsNation) September 25, 2019
Eric Comrie does have NHL experience, but it’s mostly not good. In eight career NHL games he has a 2-5-0 record with an .868 save percentage.
If the Jets decide to add just Comrie alone to the playoff roster – much like they did in 2018 – it would seem odd not to include Berdin. Likewise, if the Jets only added Berdin, it would be strange for them not to add the goalie that at least has played in the NHL.
With the NHL telling teams that they are free to add as many goalies as they’d like, it seems probable (if not prudent) for the Jets to bring along both Moose goalies, even if the hope is they don’t see the ice at all the rest of the season.