NETMINDERS WILL DUKE IT OUT TONIGHT

JETS FACE THE DUCKS PUCK DROPS AT 5 P.M.

Winnipeg Sun - - FRONT PAGE - KEN WIEBE [email protected]­media.com @Wiebe­sun­sports

The Win­nipeg Jets backup goalie is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a run like never be­fore, un­beaten in reg­u­la­tion time in his 10 starts (9-0-1), with his lone loss com­ing in re­lief of Con­nor Helle­buyck in a game against the Cal­gary Flames af­ter en­ter­ing in the first pe­riod and in­her­it­ing a 3-1 deficit.

The only thing close to this took place when he back­stopped the Ed­mon­ton Oil Kings to the Western Hockey League title in 2012, earn­ing play­off MVP hon­ours af­ter go­ing 16-4 with a 2.04 goal­sagainst av­er­age and .933 save %.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween now and that time is that Brossoit was the undis­puted starter in those days and was es­sen­tially play­ing ev­ery other night – which made it eas­ier to stay in a rhythm.

“I’ve learned to deal with it and look at it in a dif­fer­ent light,” Brossoit said af­ter Fri­day’s 4-2 win over the De­troit Red Wings. “I try not to look at it in a sta­tis­ti­cal way. It’s cliché to say, but I just fo­cus each day by day.”

Helle­buyck will be back in goal as the Jets host the Ana­heim Ducks.

Brossoit, who is 9-1-1 with a 2.10 goals-against av­er­age and .939 save %, has pro­vided sta­bil­ity to the backup po­si­tion this sea­son and the one-year, one-way con­tract for $650,000 he signed on July 1 rep­re­sents in­cred­i­ble value for a guy mak­ing the league min­i­mum.

Re­gard­less of how things go dur­ing the sec­ond half for Brossoit, it’s ob­vi­ous he’s put him­self in a strong po­si­tion to gar­ner a raise.

How big can the Jets af­ford that raise to be?

That’s a far more in­ter­est­ing ques­tion to ex­plore.

Given the salary-cap chal­lenges the Jets are about to face with a num­ber of pend­ing re­stricted free agents, there’s not a great deal of wiggle room when it comes to how much money will be al­lot­ted to the backup goalie po­si­tion.

Helle­buyck is the clear-cut starter and he’s be­ing paid like one af­ter sign­ing a six-year deal worth $37 mil­lion last sum­mer.

There was a sign­ing by the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins on Fri­day that most cer­tainly caught the at­ten­tion of Jets gen­eral man­ager Kevin Chevel­day­off, with backup goalie Casey De­smith ink­ing a three-year ex­ten­sion that car­ries an av­er­age an­nual value of $1.2 mil­lion.

When Pen­guins starter Matt Mur­ray bat­tled through a pair of in­juries and a tough start, De­smith kept his team in the play­off race, go­ing 12-7-4 with a 2.47 goals-against av­er­age and .924 save %.

Now, he’s been re­warded for that – though Mur­ray has found his form, is the No. 1 guy and that doesn’t fig­ure to change any­time soon.

The ma­jor dif­fer­ence when com­par­ing the two sit­u­a­tions is that Mur­ray has en­dured some in­jury is­sues and Helle­buyck has not.

De­smith is re­ceiv­ing some se­cu­rity and keep­ing him­self in a sit­u­a­tion where the Pen­guins con­tinue to highly com­pet­i­tive.

Might Brossoit con­sider a deal that’s sim­i­lar?

Only time will tell.

Brossoit is sched­uled to be a re­stricted free agent July 1 and if he takes a one-year pact, he would be el­i­gi­ble to be­come an un­re­stricted free agent in the sum­mer of 2020.

Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing in this busi­ness and no­body would blame Brossoit if he prefers to sign a one-year deal.

Would he pre­fer a lit­tle more se­cu­rity or does the spec­tre of pro­vid­ing more of a chal­lenge for a start­ing job loom larger?

It’s a ques­tion many goalies in Brossoit’s po­si­tion have to con­sider.

Look at Carter Hut­ton for ex­am­ple. He spent a good chunk of his ca­reer as a backup, much of it in the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion with the Nashville Preda­tors and St. Louis Blues.

But af­ter play­ing in 32 games with the Blues last sea­son and post­ing a 2.09 goals-against av­er­age and .920 save %, he par­layed his strong play into a three-year deal worth $8.25 mil­lion ($2.75 mil­lion av­er­age an­nual value) to be­come the starter with the Buf­falo Sabres.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber Hut­ton had played 137 NHL games be­fore hit­ting the jack­pot in free agency, both in terms of op­por­tu­nity and se­cu­rity.

To this point, Brossoit has 39 games on his NHL re­sume and he’s less than a year re­moved from a de­mo­tion to the Amer­i­can Hockey League af­ter the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers claimed Al Mon­toya off waivers.

He’s clearly trend­ing up­ward and play­ing the best hockey of his ca­reer, though the sam­ple size re­mains rel­a­tively small.

Brossoit’s im­pact on the Jets is any­thing but.

“He’s just a won­der­ful team­mate. Sup­port­ive and so even­keel and driven to get bet­ter,” said Jets head coach Paul Mau­rice. “He’s been just a big part of our team.”

For some goalies, find­ing a good sys­tem and fit is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant – es­pe­cially early in their ca­reers.

Brossoit is likely to re­ceive be­tween 20 and 22 games this sea­son, bar­ring some­thing un­fore­seen.

That will rep­re­sent a ca­reer high for him.

It will also likely leave him want­ing more.

Be­cause he will have ar­bi­tra­tion rights this sum­mer, the

Jets would prob­a­bly love to sign Brossoit to a multi-year ex­ten­sion for some­where around the $1.2 mil­lion De­smith re­ceived.

Things can change quickly for a goalie and not al­ways in a good way.

That’s why a two-year deal might make the most sense for both sides.

Brossoit gets a raise, some se­cu­rity and a chance to con­tinue to push and sup­port Helle­buyck.

CP

Jets goal­tender Lau­rent Brossoit is 9-1-1 with a 2.10 GAA and .939 save per­cent­age.

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