The Minnesota Wild have grabbed one of the last few goaltenders on the market with any NHL experience, signing Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The announcement came with some bad news, however, as Alex Stalock is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Earlier this month our Zach Leach profiled Hammond, making the case for him as the market’s top remaining goaltender. That’s hard to believe given he hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2017-18 season, but here he is just a few weeks later earning himself a contract. Given Stalock’s injury, he may earn himself some time in the NHL as well.
Make no mistake, Hammond isn’t here to become the future in net for Minnesota. The team signed Cam Talbot to a three-year contract in free agency and have top prospect Kaapo Kahkonen waiting in the wings for his chance to take over. If Kahkonen isn’t going to get regular playing time in the NHL though, it makes sense for him to not have to serve as Talbot’s backup, anchoring the AHL’s Iowa Wild instead.
If 2020 seems like it has been a full decade and you can’t remember back to the spring of 2015, you may have forgotten about how Hammond took the NHL by storm. The undrafted goaltender came up for the Ottawa Senators and proceeded to go 20-1-2 down the stretch, posting a .941 save percentage and even earning himself Hart and Vezina Trophy votes. The “Hamburglar” became a folk hero in Ottawa and will always be remembered for that run.
Amazingly, even though he has appeared in just 31 regular season games since that 2014-15 season, Hammond was again forced into playoff work with the Colorado Avalanche in 2018. He appeared in three games against the Nashville Predators and actually posted a .933, but failed to get the Avalanche through to the second round.
It’s those impressive short-term performances that make Hammond such a perfect fit for the Wild as they deal with Stalock’s injury. He can potentially spell Talbot early in the year as the team navigates a condensed schedule, while still allowing Kahkonen to start at the AHL level if the team chooses.