The Arizona Coyotes have received phenomenal goaltending from Darcy Kuemper this season and have both he and injured starter Antti Raanta under contract next season, with AHLers Adin Hill and Hunter Miska likely to stick around as well as impending restricted free agents. However, it never hurts to have redundancies in net and Arizona is about to add another goalie to the system. Reports out of Swedish news source Sport Bladet indicate that 2015 Coyotes draft pick Erik Kallgren is on his way to the U.S. to sign his entry-level contract. The team has yet to confirm a deal with the young keeper.
Kallgren, 22, was a seventh-round selection by Arizona four years ago out of the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s version of the AHL where most top young players develop before moving to the top-level Swedish Hockey League. While Kallgren had yet to graduate from the Allsvenskan, he has improved each year including a very impressive 2018-19 campaign to cap it off. Kallgren started 32 games for AIK, recording a .920 save percentage and an impeccable 2.02 GAA that ranked in the top five in the league. At 6’3″ and nearly 200 lbs., Kallgren has good size and has actually grown significantly in the years since he was drafted. Yet, it is his athleticism that has been highlighted thus far in his career. With great variation in the size and style of the goaltenders in the Coyotes’ system, it will be interesting to see if Arizona’s coaches push Kallgren to adopt a style more similar to the smaller, quicker Raanta or the bigger, sturdier Kuemper.
Kallgren tells Sport Bladet that he has signed a two-year ELC, likely starting next season. However, as he is currently on his way to Arizona, he is probably set to join the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners on an amateur tryout to end the year. The Roadrunners have eight games left in the regular season, but have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs and more likely than not will miss the postseason. Kallgren stands a better chance of making his North American debut this season if Tuscon falls out of the playoff race sooner rather than later, removing meaning from some of their final regular season games. As for next year, Kallgren states that his goal is to see NHL action in the upcoming season, but he knows that there is a long way to go before that can happen. He seems far more certain that he can win the starting job in the AHL though, which would mean supplanting established third-stringer Hill. The Coyotes were under pressure to sign Kallgren, whose draft rights would have expired on June 1st of this year, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t see him as a legitimate AHL option. It will be interesting to see how the young Swede performs next year and where he fits into the ’Yotes long-term plans.