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Devils Starting to Plan For Life After Brodeur

Posted By Matt Pellicane On Apr 19 2011 @ 6:07 pm In New Jersey Devils | No Comments

On Monday, the New Jersey Devils signed Union College goaltender Keith Kinkaid to an entry-level contract.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s a good grab for the Devils at a position that seems to be wide open after Martin Brodeur decides to call it a career.

Kinkaid is certainly not a household name, but I have had the opportunity to see him play in person a few times during my tenure at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.  Union and Quinnipiac are both members of the ECAC hockey, playing each other twice every season. 

The two teams met in last year’s ECAC Quarterfinals, and played in the longest game in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey history [1].  Kinkaid was in net for this five overtime thriller which saw the Quinnipiac Bobcats emerge victorious, 3-2.  In the contest, Kinkaid made a whopping 52 saves.

Kinkaid just finished his sophomore season, so by signing the contract with the Devils, he is forgoing his final two years of eligibility.  This season, Kinkaid posted a 25-10-3 record and finished with a .920 save percentage to go with the nation’s fourth best goals against average of 1.99.  Kinkaid was also the recipient of the Ken Dryden Award which is given to the league’s top net-minder.  Kinkaid was also an integral part of the Dutchman’s run to the Frozen Four and their ECAC regular season title.

Kinkaid is the latest name to be added to the pool of potential replacements for future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur.  The Devils have three goalies in the AHL: Mike McKenna, Dave Caruso and Jeff Frazee.  Of the three, the only one who can really be considered a prospect is Frazee.  He was once considered the top candidate to replace Brodeur, but an 11-15 record with Albany this season will probably have Frazee honing his skills in the minors for another year.

The Devils most promising goaltenders of the future are playing their hockey in the Canadian junior leagues.  Maxime Clermont posted a 28-10-1 record for his team, Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.  To go along with his solid record, Clermont compiled a .896 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against average.

Scott Wedgewood also had a fine season for his junior club, the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.  This season, Wedgewood had a record of 28-18-1 to go along with a .908 save percentage and a 2.99 goals against average.

None of the Devils current crop of goaltending prospects are ready for the bright lights of the NHL just yet.  Clermont and Wedgewood would benefit from another season with their respective junior clubs, and Frazee needs to prove to the Devils that he can be a number one net-minder in the AHL before they even think about having him move up to the big club.  And then there’s Kinkaid, who will attend training camp with the Devils in the fall, but will probably report to Albany once training camp concludes.

As much as it will hurt Devils fans everywhere to see the Martin Brodeur era come to an end in the next few years, the Devils are taking the right steps to give themselves plenty of in-house options to find Brodeur’s successor.

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[1] the longest game in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey history: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4991859

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