It was interesting, earlier this week, when the Winnipeg Jets recalled Arvid Holm from the minor leagues to serve as an extra goaltender. That third-string spot would have presumably gone to Mikhail Berdin under normal circumstances but he was away from the team.
Now, the Jets have explained where Berdin is. In a release, the team has indicated that per a recommendation from the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, the young goaltender will not be with the organization this season. His agent Dan Milstein tweets that Berdin will return to Russia to be closer to his family and will play in the KHL this season.
The Jets will not incur a cap charge and Berdin will not be paid by the team. Instead, he will be allowed to sign a one-year deal in the KHL for this season. His NHL rights will stay with Winnipeg for the time being.
Now 24, Berdin was a sixth-round pick of the Jets back in 2016 and has been away from Russia for years. He spent two full seasons in the USHL following his draft, and has been in the minor league system for the past four. There was a short 14-game stint with St. Petersburg SKA in 2020-21 when the AHL season was postponed, but beyond that, he has been competing in North America for six years.
Hopefully, whatever has caused him to need this split from the organization will be resolved and he can continue his pro career here in the future. The young netminder has a lot of upside and posted a .902 save percentage in 32 games with the Manitoba Moose last season.
Interestingly, because of his age and contract status, Berdin should actually qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency next summer. That means the two sides could be parting ways permanently, though since this is a special circumstance there could be other factors at play. Even if he does qualify for UFA status, the Jets would be free to sign him to another contract next offseason.