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Connor Hellebuyck won’t have to spend much time getting to know his new goaltending partner – the two are already good friends and off-season training partners.
Laurent Brossoit, 25, signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $650,000 Sunday to fill the void left in the Jets net with Saturday’s trade of veteran Steve Mason.
Brossoit, from Port Alberni, B.C., went 3-7-1 in 14 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season, with a 3.24 goals against average and .883 save percentage. He also played 29 games in the AHL with Bakersfield, going 15-10-1 with 2.68 goals against average and .912 save percentage.
“You know what, it came up last second. It kind of all happened in the last 24 hours. I was talking to some other teams and what-not and (the Jets) kind of came out of nowhere and they asked if I would be willing to take the offer I had, that I just signed,” Brossoit said Sunday in a telephone interview from Italy, where he’s currently on vacation.
“I figured with the type of potential the team had, the way the team is looking and given the opportunity they said that I’ll get this year, it just felt like a no-brainer. It’s my goal to get more NHL experience and to do that (with) such a skilled, offensive team, it was just a no-brainer for me. I’m just looking to be a supporter of (Hellebuyck) and the rest of the team and to be a good teammate and then contribute in the games that I do play. I’m very excited to do that.”
Brossoit isn’t exactly a household name nor do his numbers jump off the page, with just 28 total games of NHL experience spread over four seasons with the Oilers. His signing likely means Hellebuyck, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, will be counted on heavily again next season.
“Lots of teams reached out, had numerous offers. Goalie coaches around the league love him. Very high ceiling,” Brossoit’s agent, Ray Petkau, told the Free Press Sunday.
Hellebuyck and Brossoit are very familiar with each other, as they train together during the off-season and attend the same goaltending program. They also share Petkau as an agent.
The Mason trade, meant to create such much-needed salary cap space given his $4.1 million ticket, created a hole in net for the Jets. Several potential backup candidates quickly came off the board in the initial hours of free agency, leaving a dwindling pool to choose from.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Sunday he expects Brossoit to be challenged by Manitoba Moose starter Eric Comrie for work behind Hellebuyck next season. Rookie Mikhail Berdin is expected to be the other goalie on the farm, coming straight out of the USHL.
“This game is all about competition. Eric has competed over the last couple of years and got experience. They’re both going to compete certainly for whatever they’re going to get at training camp,” said Cheveldayoff, who explained how the Brossoit deal quickly came together once the decision to move Mason was made.
“This week has been a very unique week. It’s evolved over the course of time from a talking period to a more-than-talking period. It’s been interesting. So, we had some conversations. It really all came to fruition essentially in the last 24 hours with Laurent,” said Cheveldayoff. “The conversations internally were, if we had to go down the path of something with moving a goaltender out to create some space, who would we want to look at? We had some extensive conversations with both goalie coaches (Wade Flaherty and Rick St. Croix) and Laurent’s name was very intriguing to us. Obviously, we need to be cognizant of what kind of cap implications it would have.
Brossoit, who stands 6’3 and weighs 200 pounds, said he considers himself an athletic goalie with sound positioning.
“I would say it’s my ability to move in the crease. I’d like to think I’m very strong, for a big guy I can get around the crease pretty quickly and efficiently. So I would say it’s definitely my movement,” he said.
Brossoit is also familiar with Tyler Myers and Nic Petan from off-season training and hopes to see in action in about 20 regular-season games next season.
“I can say that I have goals and I would like to play in one of every four and (the Jets) have said that’s definitely a possibility. They don’t want to have (Hellebuyck) have too much of a workload. I hope I can provide that (support) for him,” he said.
“I don’t look too far ahead and I try not to put too many expectations on how the year is going to go. I’d like to just focus on each game that comes my way. I’m grateful for each game that will come my way and I’ll just be prepared for each game that comes my way.”
Brossoit said last year was tough with the Oilers as the team got off to a terrible start, then gave starter Cam Talbot a heavy workload to try and get back into the playoff race. He was ultimately sent to the minors when Edmonton added former Jets backup Al Montoya via a January trade.
“Unfortunately I ended up getting pretty stagnant and on the sidelines. It’s hard to get a lot of traction, but I went down to Bakersfield and started playing more and getting the confidence back. I did very well down there. It’s definitely nice to have the staff of the Jets to see the potential that I have when I am in the net and when I get opportunity,” said Brossoit.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.