As the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway on Wednesday night with four games, including the Islanders taking a 1-0 series lead on the Washington Capitals, the New Jersey Devils announced that they had re-signed goaltender Keith Kinkaid to a new two-year contract. As per team policy, no details were disclosed.
The Farmingville, Long Island, New York native, who grew up an Islander fan, but also idolizing former Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, gives the Devils a one-two punch when it comes to the goal crease. As Devils President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said in an interview on the Devils official website, Kinkaid “(has) proven he can play at this level.” Lamoriello also said that “He’s a tremendous complement, in my opinion, to Cory.”
Kinkaid can still work to get better, something that both he and Lamoriello acknowledge. According to Lou: “…he knows he has to grow a little and accepts that.” Although he is in a tough situation, he will probably only get backup minutes as long as Cory Schneider is here and on his game and healthy. It is something backup goalies had to deal with in New Jersey for years during the Brodeur years. Keith Kinkaid is a solid backup goalie and someone the Devils can count on should Cory go down or need a rest.
The contract is only for two years, so that will give him time to develop. Should he look like he could be a good number one goalie for a team at that time, it gives the Devils some room to trade him and get something back for him. Much like Schneider, Kinkaid keeps the Devils in games that they sometimes have no business being in, which is the markings of a goalie who can carry a team. This is Cory Schneider’s team for the foreseeable future, so at that time, Keith Kinkaid may need to find his number one role elsewhere.
But that problem is at least two years away. What the Devils are looking at right now is developing him further into a NHL goaltender and being ready when he gets his minutes. Cory Schneider really came into his own last season and he did emerge as the Devils undisputed number one and the heir to Marty Brodeur’s legacy. But injuries do happen and the backup does need to be sharp to keep his team in the playoff races and grab crucial points.
The Devils are in a great place right now with two goalies that can play well when plugged into the lineup. Kinkaid finished the year with 6 wins against 5 losses and 4 overtime losses with 925 minutes over 19 games (in 13 starts). He gave up 40 goals on 469 shots faced for a 2.59 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He got his first NHL win back on December 19 of 2014, when he beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout.
The upside is huge on Keith Kinkaid. He gives the Devils room to breathe when Cory Schneider needs a breather. Cory was a workhorse last season, but much like Brodeur before him, even the best need a game off here and there and the Devils can count on Kinkaid. Some work over the summer will only help him further.
The Devils have always been an organization that builds from the net out and this deal with Keith Kinkaid only makes them stronger on that end. Hopefully, the Devils can continue to build from here and have a team that is still playing at this time next year.