With the 2020-21 campaign expected to open sometime next month, most players are starting to return to North America, but it appears one of the Winnipeg Jets’ top young goaltenders might be staying in Russia for a little bit longer.
Suiting up for SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL over the last two months, the organization announced on Tuesday goalie Mikhail Berdin would be departing for HC Sochi in exchange for what they’re calling “monetary compensation,” which is also known as cash.
Forwards Yakov Trenin and Dmitry Zavgorodniy are returning to North America to participate in their respective NHL training camps, while the rights to goalkeeper Mikhail Berdin have been traded to HC Sochi.
— SKA Ice Hockey Club (@hcSKA_News) December 15, 2020
Included in this announcement, SKA also stated forwards Yakov Trenin (Nashville Predators) and Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Calgary Flames) would be returning to North America in preparation for their respective NHL training camps. Since Berdin wasn’t included in that section, it’s possible he isn’t finished playing overseas just yet and may even suit up for his new club before being recalled back to Winnipeg.
Though SKA featured four netminders on their roster this season, the 22-year old was easily one of the most trusted players amongst the entire group, as he earned the most starts (14) and posted the second-most wins (six) as well. Adding to this, the 6-foot-2 goaltender was also able to produce some of the best results of his entire career, albeit they’re over just a small sample size.
Through 14 games, Berdin performed to a 6-3-2 record, recording a 2.51 goals-against average, .910 save percentage, along with 343 saves. Additionally, he also committed a pair of penalties and tallied one assist.
In comparison to the rest of the league, the former sixth-round selection is currently tied for the 15th-highest save percentage, tied for the 16th-highest GAA, and is tied for the third-most assists among all qualified goaltenders in the KHL, according to QuantHockey.com.
Fielding a few questions after being traded to HC Sochi, Berdin admitted he really enjoyed his time with SKA and couldn’t be happier with how things have played out over the last two months. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the Russian native explained how he utilized this as a learning experience, allowing him to improve several aspects of his game.
“I spent more than two months at SKA, worked quite well and fruitfully,” Berdin discussed during a brief Q&A following his recent departure. “I have changed a lot, I think that I have added in many components. I am very pleased with this time here, I especially liked the conditions created in the club for development.”
Looking ahead to this season, the Jets are expected to open training camp shortly after the calendar turns to 2021, meaning there’s a strong chance Berdin will need to report to North America immediately after Christmas. While he’ll receive an opportunity to compete against goaltender Laurent Brossoit for the backup gig, odds are the left-handed netminder will be assigned to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, but it’s possible he could spend some time in the NHL if needed.