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A closer look at Eric Comrie, new Red Wings goalie

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 6: Eric Comrie #1 of the Winnipeg Jets watches a replay after letting in a goal while making his NHL debut during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 6, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) (2017 Getty Images)

The Winnipeg Jets signed goaltender Eric Comrie to a two-year contract in September, just weeks before he was placed on waivers.

The Arizona Coyotes claimed him off waivers on Oct. 1 when goaltender Antti Raanta was day-to-day, but didn’t use him. They assigned him to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners in November.

But the Coyotes could only assign Comrie for a 14-day conditioning stint. He had to rejoin the NHL roster after that period. Comrie, 24, is not waivers-exempt at this point in his career, so Arizona kept him up, buried behind Darcy Kuemper and Raanta. It was a similar situation he had found himself in with the Jets behind Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit.

Comrie, a 2nd-round pick by the Jets in 2013, had his breakout pro year this past season with the Manitoba Moose -- 0.917 save percentage and 25 wins in 47 games played for the AHL team. He was expected to take the next step this season, but it was already clear that wouldn’t be with the Jets. The Coyotes grabbed him as insurance, but he wasn’t taking anyone’s spot on that team either.

With his non-exempt waiver status (meaning he would have to clear waivers if he was sent down to the AHL again) Comrie eventually was traded this weekend to the Red Wings in exchange for defensive prospect Vili Saarijarvi.

Red Wings messy goalie situation

Largely due to the team’s struggle overall, there is no clear “No. 1” in Detroit right now, and Comrie’s addition means the Red Wings have four goalies on the NHL roster -- Jimmy Howard (IR), Jonathan Bernier, Calvin Pickard and Comrie. Howard was hurt and placed on IR last week. Pickard was called up before the weekend and played Friday night (6 goals against on 35 shots).

Then they picked up Comrie and the Red Wings went from nearly having to use an emergency netminder last week against Toronto to having four goalies on the NHL roster. The Comrie pickup means Pickard likely gets sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Comrie will be backing up Jonathan Bernier.

Moving forward, remember, Howard is not signed after this year. At 35, it’s unclear what his next move will be, especially if he’s unable to stay healthy. The Red Wings aren’t really saying how long he will be out right now, but either way they needed to add a goalie.

It’s kind of a messy situation, but it’s clear Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman and his staff want to have more goalie options right now and at the end of this season. It’s possible the GM could be preparing for another trade, or he’s just messing around trying to find a fit while he has some time to play with the roster.

What’s next for Comrie?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 31: Eric Comrie #1 of the Winnipeg Jets warms up prior to action against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 31, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Comrie

As for Comrie, specifically, he very well could be playing a lot for the Red Wings before this season’s over. Again, he would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins, and that’s not likely to happen if he does hit the waiver wire. He’s at least getting a shot at the crease for the Red Wings before anything like that happens.

This could be Comrie’s job for the taking as early as this season, and perhaps for sure next season. He’s getting the opportunity to show his value.

Another sneaky Yzerman move

Once again, Yzerman was paying close attention to a player in need of a spot to fit in. Yzerman has been focusing on these types of moves for weeks now -- first trading a prospect for forward Brendan Perlini, then trading Jacob de la Rose for Robby Fabbri. And although Fabbri has made an immediate impact for the Wings (10 points in 12 games), these are all moves for the team’s future.

Perlini is under a relatively cheap one-year contract, as is Fabbri, and so is Comrie. The Red Wings have options while giving these players a chance to prove their worth in the NHL.

Note

Comrie is related to former NHLer and University of Michigan standout Mike Comrie. They are half-brothers.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 03: Mike Comrie #19 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates in a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings on October 3, 2010 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Penguins defeated the Red Wings 5-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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