Nearly a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 NHL season and the New York Islanders still have the most bizarre goaltending situation in the league with Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube all still on the active roster. It is the second year in a row they have carried three goalies for a portion of the season.
Carrying three goalies is a tough situation because only one of them can play at a time, and somebody is going to get the short end of the stick. In the Islanders’ case, that somebody is the 25-year-old Berube.
While Halak and Greiss have split the playing time (13 starts for Halak, seven for Greiss) so far this season, Berube has yet to see a minute of playing time. That means since the beginning of the 2015-16 season the 25-year-old Berube has played in a total of 12 hockey games between the AHL and NHL levels. That is … not good.
What’s worse is the Islanders still don’t really seem to know the best way to handle the situation. On Sunday, coach Jack Capuano (via NHL.com’s Brian Compton) that he will speak with general manager Garth Snow about coming up with a plan on how to best handle Berube. It is kind of amazing that this situation has existed for as long as it has and the Islanders have not only yet to find a way to get Berube some playing time, but that they still don’t really have a plan (at least based on what Capuano said).
The issue for the Islanders is they have two veteran goalies in Halak and Greiss that are deserving of an NHL roster spot and playing time. That means Berube is the odd man out. But they can not send him to the American Hockey League without exposing him to waivers, and the Islanders do not want to risk losing him for nothing because he is still a valuable asset to them, especially with the team reportedly open to trading Halak and Greiss being in the last year of his contract.
In the meantime, he is likely stuck sitting in the press box until the Islanders either trade somebody (they also reportedly received no offers on Halak), or risk putting him through waivers. No matter what his long-term potential is, it is pretty obvious that this current situation is the worst case scenario for him as a player and his development.