After the Winnipeg Jets relied heavily on their goaltender position this past season, should they invest in another high-profiled netminder? Or would it make sense to just bring Laurent Brossoit back for a third season in blue and white?
With defensemen Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers departing during the 2019 offseason, along with Dustin Byfuglien sidelined for the entire season, the Jets lacked a ton of depth on their blueline during the 2019-20 campaign. As a result, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff were forced to piece together the team’s defensive corps, resulting in poor performances in front of All-Star goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
While the 6-foot-4 netminder was able to carry his team, producing a league-leading six shutouts (career-high), 2.57 GAA and a .922 save percentage, he was asked to play 58 games (tied for first in the league). Additionally, the 27-year-old also faced the most shots (1,796) and recorded the second-highest time on ice (3,268:33) among all goalies in the league.
Considering these results, it’s clear the Jets overutilized Hellebuyck this past season and it would probably be wise to avoid demanding a similar workload from him next season. In order to keep the veteran goaltender fresh, they’ll need to receive reliable and quality results from their backup netminder whenever the 2020-21 season begins.
So that brings us back to the important question, who should serve as Winnipeg’s backup goalie in 2021? And how much money do they want to invest in that position? Unfortunately, no one will know the answer to either of those questions for the next few months, as free agency won’t begin until seven days after the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Looking for an inexpensive option, the Jets could easily bring back someone who they’re familiar with and who has spent the last two seasons within their organization. Despite his inconsistent performance from this past season, Brossoit has been able to produce respectable results since the 2018-19 campaign.
Over his two seasons with the Jets, the 27-year-old has played 40 games, recording a 19-13-3 record and generating a 2.87 GAA, .912 save percentage, along with one shutout as well. Proving to be effective before the stoppage, the former sixth-round pick allowed two goals or fewer in four of his final six starts during the regular season.
Based on his 2019-20 salary of just over $1.2 million, the Jets would likely be able to re-sign him on a short-term deal close to that figure. Spending resources elsewhere, Cheveldayoff would have the flexibility to add significant talent to his team’s blueline this fall.
With approximately $15.5 million in cap space (13th-most in the league), according to Sportrac.com, it would make a ton of sense for Winnipeg to spend the majority of those savings on a defenseman or two or even three if possible. Along with rebuilding their defensive corps, they’ll also need to utilize some of that money to re-sign a few restricted free agents, namely Jack Roslovic, Sami Niku, and Mason Appleton.
Even if the Jets want to look externally for their next backup goalie, there are plenty of players out there who could fill that role and be signed to a very cheap price. Regardless of who fills the position, the Jets will need to find the right netminder who’ll be able to take some of the pressure off Hellebuyck and provide some much-needed relief next season.