Ray Shero made one of the first deals made on the day of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline and it was a surprise. The New Jersey Devils traded goaltender Keith Kinkaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth round draft pick - in the 2022 NHL Draft.
That is not a typo. Kinkaid was moved for a late draft pick not even remotely in the near future. This is barely above future considerations, the parlance give for a player being traded for just next to nothing.
To be fair, Kinkaid was not likely worth anything on the proverbial market. Kinkaid has been awful after a hot first four starts to this season. How awful? According to The Point, Kinkaid has bottomed out as one the worst goalies in the NHL in terms of save percentage and goals saved above average out of 51 goalies. I can't imagine any team who needs goaltending help would look at his performances this season and think he could help. Further, Kinkaid is also a 29-year old goaltender so he carries no potential in a position with possibly more players than spots. And he's an unrestricted free agent so anyone who really wants Kinkaid can just wait a few months to sign him. This all points to a minimal return at best and fifth rounder in a draft where the prospects are currently years away from junior hockey is definitely minimal.
I suppose of you really, really believe that getting anything for an expiring contract is worth it, then you may appreciate even this. The real value for the Devils is that they can call up Mackenzie Blackwood and have him serve with Cory Schneider as the team's two goaltenders for the next 20 games. Which they did shortly after the deal was announced. Evan Cormier was also officially announced to have signed an entry level contract so that adds coverage for Binghamton and Adirondack. Blackwood did really well in his previous call up and the Devils want to see if he has a future at this level. I hope he does. I also hope Schneider continues to perform well. With Kinkaid gone, the Devils can see if a tandem of Schneider and Blackwood is viable.for 2019-20. To that end, that's what the Devils got out of this trade.
So let this part serve as a goodbye to Kinkaid. You may not have realized this but he has been with the organization for nearly eight years. The Devils signed him after two great seasons at Union College back on April 18, 2011. Kinkaid made his professional debut with Albany back in the 2011-12 season and climbed his way up the depth chart. After a one-game taste in 2013, Kinkaid had his first proper run in the NHL with 19 games in 2014-15. That helped him earn the #2 spot in 2015-16 and has remained in the NHL ever since.
Kinkaid has never had outstanding numbers but he proved himself to be a capable netminder. At his best, he was fundamentally sound. Kinkaid was solid at squaring up to shots, maintaining his form, and not needing to do something athletically amazing to make a stop on a regular basis. He was never a great puck handler and when he struggled, his form just was not good enough. He never had an easily visible skill that could make one think he could handle a larger workload than a backup or a #2 goalie. But he absolutely did show he could in the back half of the 2017-18 season.
The really great two-ish months last season combined with Schneider's injuries and issues in net earned Kinkaid a lot of new fans. And why not? His performances in February and March 2018 were critical in the Devils' run to the playoffs. Again, he was consistently able to get in front of shots, manage his rebounds, and not take himself out. It was a far cry better than, say. October through December 2017. It was enough to take the #1 spot away from Schneider. It was enough to be the starter in the Devils' first playoff appearance since 2012. It was enough for a new contract. And with Schneider recovering from surgery in the offseason, he was tasked to be the starter again - and fans were reasonably hopeful. And he was great for the first week or so. As with the rest of the team, the decline started after the first four games or so and has not really stopped since.
In retrospect, he peaked. He did well to go on from an undrafted free agent from college, work his way up in Albany, secure a NHL spot, and play in 41 games last season and in this season. The end of his time with the Devils is ignominious. His numbers crashed, Schneider took back his spot, and he was dealt for a prospect who is currently 13 or 14 years old. But what a peak. Kinkaid's peak as a Devil and in his NHL career so far came a great time for the Devils to take a big and welcomed step into the playoffs.
Goodbye and good luck in Columbus, Keith Kinkaid. Please leave your thoughts about the deal and Kinkaid in the comments. Thank you for reading.