After a week of rumors and speculation not really involving the New Jersey Devils, the organization made a signing today. They have re-signed goaltender Eddie Lack. According to the team’s official Twitter account, Lack signed a one year, one-way contract worth $650,000.
The Devils acquired Lack last season when they traded defenseman Dalton Prout to Calgary on December 30, 2017. At the time of the deal, both Ken Appleby and MacKenzie Blackwood were not doing well with Binghamton. Lack went right to Binghamton. However, Lack would make four appearances in New Jersey in February. His highlight was his utterly dominant performance against Tampa Bay on February 17. Lack faced 51 shots, 80 shooting attempts, and six power plays by the potent Bolts offense - and managed to only be beaten three times and out-perform Andrei Vasilevskiy. As the Devils became healthier in net, Lack was returned to Binghamton. Per Jeff and his crew’s fourth-quarter grades of the B-Devils, Lack did not perform well down the stretch. Lack finished up 2017-18 with a 89.6% total save percentage in the AHL (21 games) with a rough 88.6% in 16 games with Binghamton. Injuries cut his season short, but that’s not good. No matter, the veteran goalie was called up by New Jersey to be an additional roster player during the playoffs. That was a sign that the New Jersey management saw him then as the #3 guy.
It appears that Lack will be the #3 goaltender in the system for 2018-19. This is about where Lack is in his career. As far back as 2013-14 and 2014-15, Lack did appear in 41 games with Vancouver. But since being dealt to Carolina, he has played fewer and fewer games in the NHL as he moved around, and ultimately became a tweener between NHL and AHL play. The 30 year goaltender will likely to get some games in New Jersey to start this coming season. Short of someone else stepping up huge in camp or an injury, the goaltending tandem will start as Keith Kinkaid and Lack since Cory Schneider is expected to still be in recovery from offseason hip surgery. The Devils’ schedule in October is favorable with many home games and no back-to-back sets. Lack may only get a game or two, but it is something. Still, when Schneider returns, Lack will likely go back to Binghamton and look to have a stronger AHL season. It may not be the only time Lack could be with the NHL roster. Plenty of teams go three-deep in their goaltending depth chart. So Lack will provide short-term coverage for that. Binghamton will have to sort out Lack’s eventual involvement with Blackwood and Cam Johnson likely to start in the AHL. But that can be determined as the season progresses. I would expect Lack to play quite a bit; Johnson is unknown at that level and Blackwood has far from impressed.
What this signing also means is that it is highly likely that Ken Appleby is not coming back. The Devils did not qualify Appleby, so he will become an unrestricted free agent as of tomorrow at noon. Jeff wrote about the Binghamton Devils’ goaltending situation yesterday in light of Appleby not being qualified. In it, he argues that the devils should bring him back for a group of Appleby, Blackwood, and Johnson in Binghamton. Lack was not even mentioned as Jeff noted that he played poorly. The numbers backed that up. Alas, the Devils have a different set of opinions and came to terms with Lack.
Since it is a one year and a very low contract (one-way just means he’ll get paid the same in Binghamton as he would in New Jersey), there is little cap implications for New Jersey. The Devils still have ample amount of room to do whatever they would like in both contracts and salary. If Lack plays poorly again, then he can be let go next summer. If he does well, then the Devils or another NHL team may be interested in keeping him around. It fills a need in the organization albeit not a huge one given the nature of the #3 role. This is essentially a minor deal and should be seen as such.
Do not be surprised if the Devils make a couple more tomorrow. They’re not the Big Signings that Command Attention, but roster spots need to be filled for Binghamton as well as establish potential call ups for New Jersey. You never know with some of them. Once in a while it can work out spectacularly: like the Brian Gibbons signing from last year. We’ll see Lack at some point and I hope things turn out for the best with him in 2018-19.
In the meantime, what do you think of the Devils re-signing Eddie Lack? Do you think they should have done so? Should they have re-signed someone else or hit the market for a #3 goaltender? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Lack re-signing in the comments. Thank you for reading.