With the vast unpredictability circulating around the potential 2020-21 American Hockey League season, players from teams across the league have begun exploring further playing options for this coming year – or more specifically, the fall months of the 2020-21 hockey season.
With the NHL (December 1) and AHL (December 4) having announced their earliest possible starting dates, minor league players who have been away from the game since the COVID-19 league shutdown in March are eagerly licking their chops for a chance to suit up in live game action to get in some reps in preparation for the 2020-21 AHL/NHL season.
On Tuesday, SKA St. Petersburg of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League announced that it had acquired the rights to Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin from Sochi in exchange for Swedish forward Oskar Steen. “The goaltender, who has recently returned from North America, will shortly sign a contract with SKA which will run until the end of the 2020/2021 season,” read a release from the SKA St. Petersburg website.
Despite no official contract included or a loan information bulletin issued from the Jets, the deal is apparently close to completion. The language used indicates that the 22-year-old goaltender will spend the duration of the 2020-21 season with SKA – which at this point would circumvent the former sixth round draft pick’s (157th overall in 2016) current deal with Winnipeg.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound backstop has spent the past two seasons with the Moose, where he owns a 2.70 goals against average and a .916 save percentage through 65 regular season contests, including 42 games in 2019-20. Berdin went 20-21-1 with two shutouts last season, following a shortened 12-8-3 campaign in his AHL debut season in 2018-19.
Many other members of the Manitoba Moose have already travelled overseas to new European clubs for the fall months (or more) during the AHL break, including:
- Charles-David Beaudoin has signed a contract with the Austrian Hockey League’s EHC Liwest Black Wings Linz for 2020-21.
- Pending RFA forward Michael Spacek signed a one year contract with Tappara Tampere in Finland (probably will not return to the Jets/Moose).
- Ville Heinola has been assigned to Rauman Lukko for the beginning of the Liiga season.
- Joona Luoto has also joined Spacek in his hometown of Tappara. No official deal has been publicly announced.
- Andrei Chibisov has signed a three-year contract with his former KHL host team Metallurg Magnitogorsk (will not return to the Jets/Moose).
- David Gustafsson has signed with Tingsryds AIF
- Leon Gawanke is currently in negotiations with the Eisbaron Berlin Polar Bears.
- Arvid Holm has been assigned to Farjestad BK of the SHL.
- JC Lipon has recently signed with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga (will not return to the Jets/Moose).