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Which direction do the Jets take with their backup goalie?

September 14, 2020, 10:49 AM ET [292 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Winnipeg Jets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The landscape of goaltending is beginning to chance.

Sure, teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning are finding success rolling out their workhorse in Andrei Vasilevskiy who has started all 17 playoff games for the Lightning to date. But if you look at the rest of the league—both regular season and playoffs—teams are trending more towards a 1A and 1B duo.

The Bruins used that approach in the 2018-19 season as Tuukka Rask made 45 starts while backup Jaroslav Halak made 37.

A rested Rask led the Bruins to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Although it’s been an injury issue for Stars goalie Ben Bishop, backup Anton Khudobin has started 17 of the 20 Stars playoff games to date. Khudobin and the Stars are one win away from an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Vegas Golden Knights traded for Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner at this seasons trade deadline, going on to use both in the playoffs so far.

Lehner has made 15 playoff starts, Marc-Andre Fleury has made five. With Fleury under contract for two more seasons, the Knights have reportedly signed Lehner to a five-year extension, keeping their 1A/1B duo intact.

There's also the Islanders who face a 3-1 deficit in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Lightning. Using a similar approach as the teams mentioned above, the Islanders have split their postseason starts between Semyon Varalmov and Thomas Griess 17 to 3.

Although they’ve only gotten a handful of starts throughout the playoffs for their respective teams, Griess and Fleury have gotten the nod in some important games.

Griess got the start for the Islanders in Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers, a 4-0 shutout for the Islanders.

And after Lehner helped the Golden Knights move past the Vancouver Canucks with a Game 7 victory of his own, the Golden Knights went with Fleury in their Game 1 loss in the Western Conference Finals to the Stars.

Having the confidence to go Griess in a Game 7, and Fleury in Game 1 shows the importance teams are putting on having a reliable backup goalie.

The Jets have the luxury of a young stud between the pipes in Connor Hellebuyck, but it may be worth it for the Jets to give the 27-year old some rest in the coming season, especially with what is expected to be a condensed schedule.

Hellebuyck has started 118 of the Jets 153 regular season games over the past two seasons. Only Carey Price (122) has more starts in that time frame. The Canadiens however, just traded for Blues goalie Jake Allen to help reduce Price’s workload.

The Jets have a serviceable backup in Laurent Brossoit, but the 27-year old is an Unrestricted Free Agent and is coming off of a season where he battled with consistency for much of the season.

Brossoit was solid five-on-five for the Jets, finishing the season with a .905 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average.

Where Brossoit really struggled in 2019-20 was on high danger scoring chances and on the penalty kill.

According to Natural Stat Trick Brossoit allowed 39 goals on 170 high danger shots against, a .771 save percentage, the fifth lowest among goalies with at least 800 minutes played.

On the penalty kill Brossoit finished the season with a .810 save percentage and a 11.82 goals-against average. Among goalies with at least 50 minutes of shorthanded time on ice, the only goalie this season worse than Brossoit was Nashiville’s Pekka Rinne who had a .780 save percentage and 12.15 goals-against average.

If the Jets are looking to take the route of bringing a veteran goalie in to split time with Hellebuyck, there are a handful of UFA’s available such as Corey Crawford, Greiss, Cam Talbot, Khudobin and Brian Elliott.

The issue with signing one of the above-named goalies comes down to money. Even if reducing Hellebuyck’s workload is something the Jets are serious about, it’s hard to see the team dishing out the money it would take to bring in a veteran that the team would feel comfortable starting for 30 or so games.

Brossoit is undoubtedly a capable backup, but not one I think you can trust with starting 30 games for you. He’s made just 34 career starts with the Jets across two seasons, making 15 in 2019-20.

Hellebuyck had another stellar season in 2019-20 and should win the Vezina Trophy when it’s announced during the Stanley Cup Final next week.

The native of Commerce, Michigan was in goal for 31 of the Jets 37 wins last season and kept the Jets afloat in a season where injuries caused a lot of issues for the Jets.

Regardless of which way the Jets go with their backup goalie situation, an interesting offseason awaits.
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