Apologies for the late, not-at-all breaking news reaction. If the moment after the 2-3 loss to Florida on Saturday night was the beginning of the 2015 offseason for New Jersey Devils, then it didn't take long for their first signing. Amid the team's break-up day and plenty of news regarding the future of Bryce Salvador and Ryane Clowe (both are in doubt of playing ever again - Gulitti on Clowe and Gulitti on Salvador), Tom Gulitti caught wind that Keith Kinkaid and the Devils agreed on a contract extension. This morning, Gulitti tweeted out the official details:
Two-year, $1.45 million contract extension ($700K, $750K) for Keith Kinkaid. One-way deal.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) April 13, 2015
With this signing, the Devils have set their goaltending tandem for the next two seasons at a minimum. Cory Schneider, who signed a big contract extension last June and was easily the most valuable player on the Devils in 2014-15, will be the starter. Kinkaid will be the back-up. His contract should carry a cap hit of $725,000.
It's an encouraging reward for Kinkaid. Last summer, the Devils signed Scott Clemmensen as insurance in case Kinkaid wasn't ready. In fact, Clemmensen got a game before Kinkaid, though it was sort of a moot point as Schneider started nearly all of the games in the first quarter of the season. Kinkaid got some spot duty for his first two appearances, but he really started to make his mark with his first start of the season. He stopped 37 out of 39 shots from Chicago in a shootout loss. He more than just stopped a lot of shots. He demonstrated that he wasn't particularly adept at one aspect or another at goaltending - as far as I can tell, experts please chime in if I'm mistaken - but he was very solid with the fundamentals. Kinkaid was set in his form, he didn't get too aggressive or passive at challenging shooters, and he didn't get into too many situations where he had to flail about and hope he made a stop. This helped him get another start, which helped him get more ice time, and by the end of the season, he started thirteen games and made nineteen total appearances.
The stats from those nineteen appearances are encouraging for a goaltender's first season spent largely in the NHL. According to NHL.com, his even strength save percentage of 93.3 is right along with Schneider. Schneider played many, many more minutes, but it's still a very, very good save percentage to post up as a rookie. According to War on Ice's goalie stats, Kinkaid managed to post one of the best high-danger shot save percentages in the league at 88.76%. However, the numbers aren't all good. Special teams didn't go so well for Kinkaid as he posted 83.1% and 81.8% save percentages on penalty kills and power plays respectively. More importantly, Kinkaid did only play nineteen games last season. It went well overall, but there's no reason to think he's the heir apparent to anything.
That's why I like the contract signing. Kinkaid has proven that he should be the #2 goalie for the time being. He gets a bump in pay, he gets the security of a one-way contract, and he's set for the next two years. By the time the contract ends, we'll know whether he is truly a #2 goalie or something more. Re-build or no re-build, the Devils' goaltending will largely live and die with Schneider. Kinkaid just needs to provide a league-average-like goaltending performance for about twenty games per season. Since the Devils get a lot of back-to-back situations on their schedule, he'll get about that much. While Schneider went back-to-back quite a bit, Kinkaid did make enough appearances to justify that he can handle about that many games and he won't get fazed by good opponents. Recall his first five starts this season: one against Chicago, one against Montreal, one against Tampa Bay, and two against the Islanders. Hardly the offensive doormats of the league. I think Kinkaid earned the right to do it again for the short term, and the Devils recognized that with this new contract. A contract that will only cost $725,000 to the team's salary cap, which isn't a lot of space at all.
I like the deal and the Devils are set in the short-term as far as who will be in the crease. What do you think about the deal? Do you like the terms of Kinkaid's contract extension? How much hope do you have for Kinkaid in the future as a Devil? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Kinkaid's contract extension in the comments. Thank you for reading.