The unspecified injury that has kept Jaroslav Halak out of game action for most of preseason and through the first four Islanders games has been steadily healing on a "day to day" pace, to the point where one report even suggested a possible return as soon as this Saturday when the San Jose Sharks visit.
It's the possible roster non-move from that report that might initially raise an eyebrow.
Rather than risk losing Berube in the waiver process necessary to send him to AHL Bridgeport, the plan is for the team to carry three goalies for the foreseeable future. The source said general manager Garth Snow is not fielding trade offers for either Berube or Greiss...
What, pray tell what, could be the motivation for this kind of roster management, particularly from a former goalie who knows the proverbial "there are only two nets at practice!" awkwardness of carrying three goalies?
There are a few very good, non-exclusive reasons, actually.
1. Make Sure, Darn Sure, Halak is Fully Healed
So even if Halak is ready to play and goes through tests and such in practice, you never really know until a few real-game situations, right? If the Isles kept Berube around for a while, it would be insurance against a re-injury to Halak.
Basically, the worst-case scenario is to restart Halak, waive Berube, and have another team claim Berube only to find Halak has re-aggravated the injury a game or two into his return.
2. Smokescreen to Create Value Out of Nothing
If other NHL teams meet the following conditions: 1) they need a goalie, 2) they'd like Berube, and 3) think they can get him via waivers, then there is little incentive for them to offer anything to Snow for Berube.
But if Snow (or another "Islanders source" close to Snow and authorized to float this info) wants such teams to think they aren't going to be able to claim Berube because he's not going to be on the wire, it would at least stir a phone call to see what Snow wants. Maybe there's a late pick or other body available to fill a need in Bridgeport.
It's unlikely, but you don't find out if you don't try.
3. You've Got Time, Might as Well Use It.
The final scenario/reasoning is just simple roster management: Thomas Hickey is still on IR. Waiver-exempt Ryan Pulock is in the AHL but available at a moment's notice if another blueline injury occurs. At present there is room on the 23-man roster for three goalies without making any moves or triggering any waiver exposure. Halak could re-injure -- or injure something else after missing so much camp and game action. Greiss could get injured. It doesn't really matter until Hickey is ready to come back.
On that note, Cyrgalis had a couple of updates to the team's injury info after Friday's practice:
Capuano only said Halak is "getting close" after full practice. Halak said he feels ready to play, but wanted to see how he felt tmrw.— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) October 16, 2015
Thomas Hickey also said he's real close to returning. Didn't want to say too much, said "a lot of factors" in if he plays tomorrow. #Isles— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) October 16, 2015
I doubt Berube stays for much longer. Regardless, because of the re-injury and longshot trade scenarios outlined above, there is no risk nor harm, but a little bit of upside, in doing nothing -- at least until Hickey is ready to come back and force their hand.