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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: Jean-Francois Berube, third wheel at #15

Well this has been awkward and shall remain so.

Beard is strong in this one.
Beard is strong in this one.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders are apparently quite high on Jean-Francois Berube, and that scares the crap out of many of us.

There is an argument for anointing Thomas Greiss the #1 goalie, for wondering whether Jaroslav Halak's cap hit is worth enduring the constant question of whether his health will let you down in critical moments. But that argument reaches some rocky shores when you assume Berube will provide adequate NHL-level backup after (if) you move Halak.

It would be the worst irony if the Islanders finally solved their yearslong search for a quality 1-2 tandem by finding a backup who was so good, they cast off their original starter and recreated the backup problem all over again.

Maybe Islanders management would be happy carrying three goalies again. (That would be odd, and Berube probably wouldn't like it, and we know Halak would hate it, but they're just the employees.)

But since that's unlikely, we must wonder if (hope?) the whole Berube experience has been a grand pump and dump and motivator for Halak, while fear they actually will be so quick to rely on a goalie of such limited NHL experience, whose numbers suggest NHL backup at best.

As usual, the caveat is that goalies are a particular brand of voodoo and maybe the team knows something we don't. We've all been wrong about goalies before. We know, Berube won the Calder Cup with Manchester. Jim Carey won the Vezina with Washington.

Regardless, we capture Berube on our Islanders Top 25 Under 25 countdown just this once, as he turns 25 later this summer. This list is a snapshot of where the organization is as it heads into the 2016 draft.

How We Voted

King (CIL) Keith Mike B. McNally Garik Dominik Leboff Les
18 12 15
13 18
11 14 23

You normally hear enough from me in the intros to these posts so I don't add more in the roundups below, but since I'm the "high" vote on this I'll just add the following: I agree with the comments from the rest of the panel below. But my ranks in these countdowns skew more toward "is useful pro now" vs "potentially useful later," so i bias toward established pros except for, well, exceptional amateur talents.

Berube has enough value that the team rightly figured it could lose him if they placed him on waivers last season. That factors into my ranking, if not my long-range expectation.

Mike B.:

The awkward third wheel in the Isles goalie tandem, notable not just for having played well, but also for possibly getting Jaroslav Halak irked with management. Yay team!

David King (CanadianIslesLifer):

Will age out of the top 25 under 25 on July 13th. Berube has never posted numbers that would project him to be an elite net minder. At best, he may become an NHL average goal tender, or just a notch below. In other words, NHL backup is likely his ceiling.

Les (HockeyGoalieEh):

He's a year older than Gibson and basically at his prime. The numbers scream out that he shouldn't be on an N.H.L. roster. Goalies can be random and perhaps the team sees something that we don't, but it doesn't look promising at all.


Berube has basically shown no proof that he's an NHL goalie. I don't get what the team sees in him. Maybe he gets the backup role next year if Halak is traded, but that's a dangerous gambit as things stand.


I think Soderstrom can be better, but Berube has at least displayed consistent numbers since hitting the AHL. If the Islanders truly like him enough to jettison Halak, then there is obviously something more there that my hack scouting eyes aren't seeing.


Played well despite being cough limited by injury cough. Seems well liked and viewed by teammates and coaches. Lifetime numbers in the AHL good but not eye-popping, so voodoo caveats apply. Has punnable name. Can mess with abbreviations, etc.

Previously on the Spring '16 25U25