As I tried to explain in the post on Maxime Clermont being ranked #22 on our Top 25 Devils Under 25 list, goaltenders are difficult to project. At least with Clermont, his numbers with Kalamazoo made it easy to say that he needs more work. Today's player to be profiled on our list isn't so easy. Coming in at #15, Keith Kinkaid, played his first professional season for the Albany Devils in 2011-12. He shared the netminding duties with Jeff Frazee and played about half the season. While he's the closest of the three goalie prospects to make it onto the New Jersey roster, he's not necessarily the highest regarded goaltender of the group.
#15 - Keith Kinkaid - Height: 6'3" - Weight: 170 lbs. - Age: 23 - 2012-13 Team: Albany (AHL)
Kinkaid's profile at Elite Prospects includes a number of accolades he earned prior to getting signed by New Jersey. In 2008-09, he was named the Goaltender of the Year and MVP in the NAHL. In 2009-10, he was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year. In 2010-11, he was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Year. As his basic goalie numbers indicate, Kinkaid clearly was a top class goalie at those levels. If you're interested in signing a goalie right of college, someone with a resume like Kinkaid's makes for a good choice.
So does some of the talents he brings to the table. While he's not packing a lot of weight, he has a good amount of size by way of being 6'3". When he was signed, Tom did an interview with Ken Schott, who covered Union College, and Schott revealed that Kinkaid was very good with rebounds and staying composed even after the team just scored. He also has been good handling the puck, something he specifically worked on at Union per the interview with Schott. The Hockey's Future profile on Kinkaid notes these attributes as well as his quickness. There's plenty to like from a distance.
Kinkaid was assigned to Albany for 2011-12 aside from a few call-ups just to act as the backup in October 2011. Due to Frazee suffering some injuries, Kinkaid got to play in more games in his first season as a pro. Kinkaid did well enough to get in games even when Frazee was active so it wasn't just a case that Kinkaid played as much solely because Frazee was hurt. Kinkaid stepped into the professional level and essentially became Albany's 1A goaltender. That's a pretty good accomplishment in year one as is getting those call ups. While he didn't play, it tells me that New Jersey thinks he's the #3 guy in the system.
That said, Kinkaid's numbers do not suggest he did all that well in 2011-12. Among all goalies who played at least 1,500 minutes in the AHL last season, Kinkaid's save percentage of 90.4% ranked 41st out of 47. Frazee actually ranked ahead of him at 90.6%. By my calculation, he averaged 28.4 shots against so he had a decent rate of shots against to fend off. So while Kinkaid was able to get minutes, it's not like he was particularly great in his first pro season. In Kinkaid's (and Frazee's) defense, Albany wasn't all that great in 2011-12. Their penalty kill was among the worst in the league and they were woeful at providing goal support with a mere 190 goals scored. I think with a better overall team, both Frazee and Kinkaid didn't have to be extremely good to pick up wins. Maybe both goalies maybe have had better save percentages in the process?
While Kinkaid is already 23, another season or two in Albany would suit his development well. Again, goaltender development takes time and he'll get it in Albany. As far as what to expect, I couldn't tell you. He could have more of the same. Then, I would not be sure if that would be on him, the team, or both. He could go on to have an awesome season with Albany. Then, I'd have to wonder whether he just got hot rather than better. I'd like him to have a better save percentage to at least show improvement. At the same time, I don't think his status as #3 on the depth chart changes unless he gets hurt, Frazee turns out to be a late bloomer, or his improvement is minimal.
As a result, it's not so easy to rank the player. As much talent he may have, the initial results haven't been good and who knows if he'll be at that next level someday. Karen and Jerry clearly thought well of Kinkaid, enough to place him in their top ten. He's got good attributes and he did get to play a lot as a rookie; but they want to see more from him. They'd like him to at least take control of the #1 spot in Albany. So would Nate, though went in the opposite way in voting. As for Matt, Kevin, and myself, we each saw him in this part of the list. While we agree he's the next in line behind the Moose, we're not sure he has that high of a ceiling. His second season in Albany could go a long way in answering that. Or not. Goalies are difficult to project, after all.
Now that you've learned where Kinkaid ranked on our list and what he's done so far, let us know what you think of his position on our Top 25 Devils Under 25 list. Do you think it's too high, too low, or just right? Do you agree that he would be up with New Jersey if either Moose or Marty get hurt? Do you think he has NHL potential? In the meantime, what would you like to see him accomplish this season with Albany and will he do it? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Keith Kinkaid in the comments. Thank you for reading.