On Tuesday morning, news came that two of Winnipeg’s five Waiver-wire placements from Monday had been claimed, while three players went through unclaimed. This news came just 16 hours after the Jets announced that seven players had been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose, while two were released from their respective professional tryouts.
Officially, forwards Kristian Reichel, Skyler McKenzie and Joona Luoto, defencemen Johnathan Kovacevic, Luke Green and Declan Chisholm and goaltender Mikhail Berdin were cut to the American Hockey League on Monday evening. Defenceman Jimmy Oligny and goaltender Cole Kehler were also released from their respective PTOs. Although unable to earn NHL contracts this time around, the two will most likely continue the tryout phase with Manitoba (AHL).
On Tuesday, it was announced that the New Jersey Devils had scooped up goaltender Eric Comrie, while the Nashville Predators claimed defenceman Luca Sbisa. Passing through Waivers untouched were forwards Mathieu Perreault and CJ Suess, as well as defenceman Nelson Nogier.
“Finding out this morning that I was staying here, I was pretty happy,” Perreault told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Just one day prior, Jets coach Paul Maurice spoke on the decision to put Perreault on Waivers.
“This is wholly and completely a cap-compliance issue,” Maurice said. “The details of which I’ll have to leave to somebody who understands those details better. But we need to be at a certain place for opening day and it doesn’t change. There’s always the chance Mathieu could get claimed on Waivers but if he doesn’t, nothing changes in terms of his ability to be in the lineup opening night.”
Fellow forward and oftentimes linemate, Andrew Copp, also talked about Perreault’s presence in the Jets’ lineup and his personality within the room.
“Yeah, obviously there’s a business side to it. But, you know, you really hope the guys that are on Waivers for us don’t get picked up because they’re important parts of our room. Frenchie has been here since I’ve been here. He’s one of the guys that brings it every day, is an important piece going up and down the lineup. But it’s definitely a business and this year with the flat cap, you know things are gonna happen. So, hopefully our team doesn’t get changed too much because we like the direction we’re going.”
Luckily for Copp and Co. the majority of the fold will remain the same, with the exception of the taxi squad goaltender position, to which Comrie was presumably set to retain. With youngster Mikhail Berdin set to hold down the fort with the Moose, Kehler may have been set to be used as his backup, with Comrie serving as the taxi squad goaltender.
Another interesting name to watch on the goaltending side of things is Byron Spriggs, who has served as emergency backup in past years, should the Moose get desperate at some point this season. A number of veteran goaltenders remain available in the free agent market as well. Coach Maurice is not interested in letting a ‘kid’ ride along on the taxi squad for the duration of the season and duck out of game action. But on Tuesday, coach Maurice confirmed that it would now be Berdin taking on the taxi squad goaltender position to begin the season.
“God, I’d really like to stay away from having a player who could be playing big minutes in the American Hockey League sitting in the taxi squad,” he said. “At the same time, we need players on that squad who are able to jump into the NHL. So we’ve got some good young players that would get the nod. You know, the whole idea of this taxi squad is if something happened and you got a positive test and three or four guys had to come out of your lineup, you could find guys who’d be with you. But God, having a young player sit and watch hockey for a long period of time, that’s a tough thing to do to him.”