Chants of “Eddie! Eddie!” won’t be heard at Mile One Centre anymore, unless in welcome for a former fan favourite.
Goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who became one of the most popular player on the American Hockey League IceCaps, was traded by the parent Winnipeg on Saturday.
The 23-year-old was sent to the Washington Capitals in a deal that basically netted the Jets two seventh-round draft picks — one this year which was used to select college-bound centre Matt Ustaski and one in 2015. Washington and Winnipeg also exchanged picks in Saturday’s sixth round as part of the trade.
Pasquale had begun the 2013-14 season as the IceCaps’ starting goalie and third on the Jets’ netminding depth chart, but his future in the organization came into question in February after decided to opt for season-ending surgery to fix a nagging hip injury. That opened the door for Michael Hutchinson, who took over the No. 1 job with St. John’s and excelled in the role, leading the IceCaps all the way to the Calder Cup final, where they lost in five games to the Texas Stars.
Both goalies are set to become restricted free agents and while it is almost a certainty that Winnipeg will look to retain Hutchinson, there didn’t appear to be much room for Pasquale. The Jets also have NCAA Division One goalie of the year Connor Hellebuyck and Jussi Olkinuora, who spent half the 2013-14 season with St. John’s, under contract, with a number of netminders in the prospect pipeline, led by WHL star and 2013 second-round draft pick Eric Comrie, who will spend one more season as a junior.
Pasquale, a native of Toronto, had been a fourth-round draft choice of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 and turned pro in 2010 with the Chicago Wolves. After the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and the Jets established their farm team in St. John’s, Pasquale emerged from a three-goalie logjam to become the starter in 2011-12, posting a 23-12-1 record with four shutouts and 2.41 goal-against average for the IceCaps. That was good enough to earn him the nod as the goalie on the AHL’s all-rookie team.
In three seasons with St. John’s, Pasquale had an overall record of 55-48-6, with a 2.54 GAA and nine shutouts. That included a line of 17-13-1 and 2.43 GAA last season.
Although he has spent time on recall to the Jets, Pasquale has yet to play in an NHL game.
Reports indicate the Capitals want to sign a free-agent goalie with NHL experience to back up goalie to Braden Holtby, allowing Phillipp Grubauer, who split last season between Washington and the AHL’s Hershey Bears, to play more often in the minors. With veteran David Leggio, who made 60 per cent of the starts for the Bears last season, about to become an unrestricted free agent, it would seem to leave Pasquale — assuming he is signed by the Capitals — and Grubauer sharing the workload in Hershey.