The New Jersey Devils are bringing back their backup goaltender. Keith Kinkaid as agreed to a two-year deal that will take him off the market just a few days before hitting free agency. Kinkaid fell just outside our Top 50 Free Agent list, but would have definitely had interest around the league should he have made it to the open market. The deal will pay him an average salary of $1.25MM.
In 26 games for the Devils last season, Kinkaid registered a .916 save percentage and actually looked better in net than incumbent Cory Schneider at times. There’s no doubt that Schneider—who posted just a .908 mark—will return as the full-time starter, but Kinkaid offers an experienced backup for a team who wants to get back to the playoffs sooner than later. At 27-years old, Kinkaid has only ever played for the Devils organization. Signing out of Union College, Kinkaid worked for several years as the starter in Albany before making a mark at the NHL level.
Interestingly, the Devils still have Scott Wedgewood in the system as a restricted free agent, and did issue him a qualifying offer. The young goaltender had shoulder surgery that robbed him of most of 2016-17, but does seem to deserve a chance at the NHL before long. His numbers in the minor leagues have steadily increased, and he’s at risk of becoming a Group VI free agent next summer if he still doesn’t have a good amount of NHL experience. That doesn’t seem likely now with Kinkaid in the fold, meaning they may lose him without ever giving him a fair shake. That said, they already exposed Wedgewood to waives at the beginning of last year and he went unclaimed, so perhaps any risk is overblown.
For now, the Devils have set themselves up with problem to worry about heading into an important free agency. Though they didn’t issue qualifying offers to Beau Bennett or Jacob Josefson, it’s expected they are at least trying to retain them. Damon Severson needs a new contract, and as arguably the Devils best defenseman his cap hit will greatly influence how they go after free agents. The team has tons of space, but still needs to stick to a salary structure and can’t go handing out big term and cap hits for just anyone.
According to Andy Strickland of Fox Sports was first to break the deal.