The Arizona Coyotes have a goaltender conundrum, but it’s not the type that leaves most franchises panicking about their immediate future between the pipes.
Where some teams have one legitimate starter and a league-average backup, the Coyotes are in the pleasant position of having two goalies that could both be considered starters across the NHL.
This exceptionally strong position in net has allowed the Coyotes to allow the fewest number of goals against per game to date, with a 2.28 goals against average.
This has helped the team reach 31 points with a 14-8-3 record, seeing them sit in second place in the Pacific Division after 25 games.
So where might the conundrum be? Well, that would be what the team decides to do with third-string goalie Eric Comrie, who has recently returned from a brief conditioning stint in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners.
During his four-game stint just two hours south on Interstate 10, Comrie has a .900 save percentage a 2.75 goals against average while helped guide the Roadrunners to a perfect 4-0-0 record.
Per to NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are allowed to send players down to the minors for a conditioning loan for a maximum of 14 days, without needing to pass through waivers to do so.
The 24-year-old goaltender was originally claimed by the Coyotes when his original team, the Winnipeg Jets, placed him on waivers with the view to sending him down to the minors.
The Coyotes would need him to pass through waivers if they were to attempt to send him down to the Roadrunners for the long-term.
Now that he is back, the biggest question will be: will he remain with the team?
With Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta firmly entrenched as the team’s superb tandem, Comrie isn’t likely to get a sniff of action unless there is a significant injury to either of the aforementioned.
John Chayka himself has commented on Comrie being a valuable asset to the organization but has not gone into specifics as to in what capacity that may be.
If he is kept on the team, he’ll likely find himself sitting in the press box week-in, week-out and will not be worth keeping around.
One ideal situation could be to trade him to a goaltender-needy team that has spare forwards that the Coyotes view highly.
A potential trade partner in this situation could be the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have a number of questions revolving around their backup goaltender situation.
Meanwhile, the Leafs are going to have to waive a forward or two once Marner returns. The Coyotes could use some extra forward depth.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) November 25, 2019
Would they want Timashov or Shore?
Unless there's an injury, ARI either needs to trade or waive Comrie, or he's going to rot in the pressbox.
Currently, the team has Kasimir Kaskisuo as their backup, with Kaskisuo playing his first-ever NHL game in their recent 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Leafs are a team with plenty of promising offensive talents and could be interested in seeing what a low-cost guy like Comrie has to offer.
Even Kevin Papetti of Maple Leaf Hotstove echoes this idea, with the Leafs’ difficult cap situation potentially forcing them into making some moves that could see them trade away an offensive piece.
If Comrie truly has value as an NHL player to the Arizona Coyotes, they may need to find some games for him to feature in soon in order to see what they really have otherwise, if they are able to get something in return for him, now may be the best time to do so in order to avoid seeing his value drop as he sits on the sidelines.