While goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is currently shining in the spotlight after capturing the 2020 Vezina award on Monday night, the Winnipeg Jets have announced that his potential understudy is heading overseas for the KHL’s 2020 season.
Even though there’s no timetable for when the NHL’s 2020-21 campaign will begin, one of the stipulations of this agreement is that goaltender Mikhail Berdin must return to North America once the season opens, which will likely be sometime in late December or early January.
The #NHLJets have loaned goaltender Mikhail Berdin to SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL. Under the parameters of the agreement with SKA Saint Petersburg, Berdin will return when the 2020-21 season begins in North America.
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) September 22, 2020
Drafted by the Jets in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, Berdin spent his first two seasons in North America playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. Over his 76 starts, the 6-foot-2 netminder generated a 38-25-6 record, producing a 2.69 GAA, .923 save percentage, along with a trio of shutouts.
After enjoying back-to-back successful seasons in the USHL, the Russian native earned a promotion to the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL during the 2018-19 campaign. Making 28 starts, the 22-year old created a 16-8-2 record, recording a 2.66 GAA, .912 save percentage, and one shutout.
Since teammate Eric Comrie spent a few months in the NHL during that same season, Berdin was able to fill in as his replacement with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. Earning 23 starts, the youngster performed to a 12-11-0 record, creating a 2.34 GAA, .927 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts.
As for this past season, the left-handed catching goaltender took over the starting role with the Moose, but couldn’t replicate his impressive results from his first season in the AHL. With that said, he was still able to perform effectively as the team’s starting netminder, producing a 2.89 GAA, .910 save percentage, two shutouts, along with a 20-21-1 record through 42 starts.
Even though SKA’s regular season has already begun, Berdin is expected to join their team very shortly and could even take the ice for them before the end of September. Whenever Winnipeg’s training camp opens for next season, he’s expected to be competing against Comrie for the backup role behind Hellebuyck and whoever falls short will likely serve as Manitoba’s starting netminder once the AHL’s season begins.
Along with Berdin, this isn’t the first time the Jets have loaned one of their players overseas, as defenseman Leon Gawanke (Berlin), forward David Gustafsson (Sweden), and defenseman Ville Heinola (Finland) have each been allowed to play with their respective teams during this offseason. Performing under the same guideline as Berdin, they’ll each have to return to North America once hockey resumes this winter.