Earlier today, a stunning change to how the New Jersey Devils would do business was announced. OK, that wasn't the news. The news was that the Devils re-signed Scott Wedgewood to a two year deal. The stunning change was in the report at the team's official website. I'm going to quote it.
The New Jersey Devils today re-signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a two-year, two-way contract, with an average annual value of $587,500. The announcement was made by Devils’ General Manager Ray Shero.
Yes, the Devils announced Wedgewood's contract details in their release. I don't know about you, but that stunned me. For years and years, the Devils had a team policy where they would not disclose the nature of the contract or the amount. They weren't alone in that regard, but the Devils just didn't release them. Reporters would get that information from some other source and report it out. Here, it's as plain as day and right from the team. A two-way deal with an average annual value of $587,500. This would not exist under Lou. This is clearly the Ray Shero era.
That aside, let's discuss Wedgewood for a bit. This is his first contract after his entry level contract ended. Per General Fanager, it is a step down in terms of overall value. ELCs do come with signing and performance bonuses, so that's gone now. Further, his NHL salary was higher; not that it mattered as Wedgewood was largely with Albany making five figures. For his sake, I hope that his AHL salary got an increase even though his NHL salary dropped.
That Wedgewood would be re-signed was in little doubt. He's 22, he was a restricted free agent, and just finished his third season of professional hockey. At a minimum, he will be tending the net for Albany. Last season, he would make more appearances than any other Albany Devils goaltender. However, he also had the worst save percentage among the four who put on the pads in 2014-15. Even worse than that is the fact that a 90.3% save percentage was an improvement over the 88.9% he put up in his rookie AHL season in 2013-14. Unless he showcases some great improvement, I'm hesitant to state he's the #3 guy in the system. He very well could be. If Cory Schneider or Keith Kinkaid go down, then the team's in big trouble regardless of who it is. Given that the team is not likely going to be good in 2015-16, that may be moot. Regardless, I just don't have a lot of high hopes that he has a NHL future ahead of him right now. Those AHL save percentages are ugly. Still, that could change and New Jersey has given him two years to at least figure it out.
Incidentally, there's only two other goaltenders out of contract in the system. Scott Clemmensen is an unrestricted free agent and Maxime Clermont is a RFA like Wedgewood. Clemmensen was certainly a good sport about coming in and providing some potential veteran depth even as that meant spending most of the season in the minors. At 37, though, I don't see a need to bring him back. Clermont is 23 and he has yet to crack the AHL. Sure, there may not have been a space made for him in the past few seasons. Nothing about his poor save percentages in the ECHL suggests he should have had one. We'll see whether the Devils keep him around for a little while longer. Even if Shero does decide to keep him, it wouldn't be the worst idea for the Devils to draft a goalie late on Saturday (Related aside: Check out Clare Austin's post on drafting goaltenders at Puckology) or pick up an undrafted free agent this summer to bolster depth in that position and groom someone with potential.
All the same, with today's news, the Devils at least have three goalies set for next season: Schneider, Kinkaid, and Wedgewood. They were there last season and they will be around for the next two. Likewise, as Tom Gulitti reported last week at Fire & Ice, Chris Terreri was retained as goaltender's coach. That consistency in net extends to coaching as well. Look out for more RFA signings and other moves as the draft and free agency loom in the very near future. Please leave your reaction to Wedgewood's new deal and other thoughts about the Devils' goaltending depth in the comments. Thank you for reading.