May 13, 2020

Should the Rangers re-sign JF Berube?

JF Berube (Wolf Pack / AHL)

Acquired by the Rangers on February 20th, Jean-Francois Berube was brought in to mentor Adam Huska and alleviate the workload. He was part of the trade that the Wolf Pack dealt goaltender Tom McCollum and Lewis Zerter-Gossage to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was done in stages given the contract statuses for the players involved (Berube was on an NHL deal while Zerter-Gossage and McCollum was on AHL deals).

Bringing In Berube

As Adam Huska and Tom McCollum struggled, Chris Drury had to bring in a more reliable goaltender for the playoff bound Pack. JF Berube’s contract is up this summer and he had to prove himself worthy on returning next season. Unfortunately, Berube was limited to seven games with Hartford, which was not a lot time to impress the Wolf Pack brass.

The experienced 28 year old veteran won the Calder Cup in the 2014-15 season with the Manchester Monarchs. Ironically, he joined former teammates Vincent LoVerde and Nick Ebert from the championship squad. Berbue also had the most wins as a goaltender in the AHL that year.

Berube (Getty Images)

Berube Signed With Struggling AHL Affiliate

The Flyers signed JF Berube a one year deal to provide experience in the crease in Allentown. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms roster changed dramatically last summer as the organization became young and lost numerous quality veterans. Despite the change, Berube was one of the shining spots on the team to keep the Phantoms competitive. The veteran goaltender was in a tough spot this season. As the trade deadline approached, the Flyers and Phantoms began to trade a few pieces away. Through 29 games with the Phantoms, Berube established a 12-11-4-3 record with a 2.56 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.

The Uncompleted Season

JF Berube completed seven games in Hartford due to the pause and eventual cancellation. At the time, Hartford’s roster was depleted from a trade, injury, or call ups. The Wolf Pack found themselves struggling in the tail end of the season, especially in March. Berbue was once again playing for a struggling team. Through his seven games, Berube compiled a 1-6 record with a 2.83 goals against average and a .884 save percentage. Given the circumstances, Berube had a difficult task to please the Wolf Pack brass in a handful of games. Especially with the way Igor Shesterkin played prior to the call up.

Since Igor’s departure, the Pack were unable to find a solid enough replacement. You cannot fault the goalies in Hartford for all the struggles considering the roster was weaker than normal. A lot was lacking and the group was doing the best it could given the recent call ups from Maine of the ECHL.

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Re-Sign and Expose?

The Rangers are going to need a goalie to expose to Seattle in the expansion draft in 2021 in order to protect Alex Georgiev. Looking back at his time, Chris Drury and the Rangers will need to take a hard look at JF Berube. If the organization intends to keep Berube and the cap is lowered, they may have to offer him an AHL deal. I expect the Rangers to sign one veteran goalie for Hartford for the upcoming season. It would be wise for the organization to provide a veteran for either Adam Huska or Tyler Wall. All those things in consideration, the expansion draft has to be considered.

Regardless of the outcome, I see the Rangers signing an additional goalie for Hartford. They will still have to address the goaltender situation in New York. JF Berube is a 25/75 probability for me given the constant player movement and his limited time in Hartford. I can see Chris Drury scouting the free agency market for another goalie within the AHL.

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