While it was rumored in the Twitterverse on Friday night that the New Jersey Devils had signed Union Flying Dutchman goaltender Keith Kinkaid to a Entry Level Contract, it was finally made official today.
Kinkaid, who foregoes his final two years of college was named a First Team ACHA All-American (in the East), a second team All-College Hockey News selection, and First-Team All ECAC based on his play this past season. The native of Farmingville, NY will join the team for training camp in September.
(Note: While I have seen various reports that he signed a 3-year ELC, I don't think that's possible as he is technically going to be considered 22 for the purposes of the deal and is only able to sign a maximum of a 2-year deal. CBA Reference 9.1.B and 9.2)
Besides the information provided on Kinkaid by user alslammerz (and read his thoughts on Kinkaid's play here). I knew very little of Union's players beyond Kelly Zajac, the younger brother of Travis and Darcy. (You might have heard of Travis before). I was very curious about Kinkaid, partly because of my lack of knowledge about him but also because of the Devils current goaltending depth. With Jeff Frazee a RFA, Mike McKenna a UFA and Maxime Clermont likely to be playing in the organization next year the race to be Martin Brodeur's successor has a new contestant.
I reached out to Bill Cain of the Daily Gazette, who covers the Albany Devils, to see if he knew anyone familiar with Kinkaid. He was gracious enough to connect me with Ken Schott (also with the Daily Gazette) so that I could pick his brain a bit about the Devils new goaltender.
Ken writes the 'Parting Schotts' blog at the Daily Gazette website and is also on Twitter @slapschotts. He covers ECAC Hockey, specifically Union and RPI. I am mad at myself for not finding his blog earlier because one thing I have been looking for the past few months when researching the NCAA is a good source of information about the ECAC. Now, I have a great one. So if you enjoy college hockey follow Ken on Twitter and via the Daily Gazette.
After the jump we will discuss Kinkaid's sudden departure from Union to the Devils, Kinkaid's brief history with Union and how Kinkaid reminds Ken of a local goalie, who some of you might be familiar with.
Tom Stivali: Ken-Thank you for taking the time to do this. The first item I wanted to discuss is Kinkaid leaving Union early. They had just come off a season where they were in the NCAA tournament for the first time at the Division I level and the program was at its apex.
Were you surprised by this move, were there any rumblings this might have happened? Was it simply a case of capitalizing on an opportunity?
Ken Schott: Tom, I wasn't completely shocked by the move. It wasn't a secret that NHL teams were looking at him. He had been in a number of NHL prospect camps the past two summers. Keith gave fans some hope after the NCAA loss to Minnesota Duluth when he said he was coming back. But, having asked the same question of RPI forward Jerry D'Amigo after he won ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year last season and getting the same answer, only to see him sign with Toronto in late August, I knew the answer could change. When I spoke to Keith after he was named an All-America and asked him again about coming back, he said it was 50-50. At that point, I had a feeling he was going to leave.
Tom: What were the expectations of Kinkaid coming to Union as a 20 year old freshman out of the NAHL? Was the job thought to be his or was his ascendance a surprise?
Ken: The expectation was that he was going to be the No. 1 goalie soon. Keith had great stats with the St. Louis Bandits (30-5, 1.79 goals-against average). He was the NAHL MVP and Goalie of the Year. But Union coach Nate Leaman had a No. 1 goalie already in Corey Milan, who helped the Dutchmen win their first Division I playoff series in 2008-09. Keith was pulled from his first home start against Sacred Heart on Oct. 24, 2009, after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first period. However, Union didn't play very well in front of him.
But as the season went along, Keith got better and better, while Corey was inconsistent. Eventually, Keith took over as the No. 1 goalie.
Tom: Kinkaid seems to have went from a situation in 2009-2010 when he was sharing time with Corey Milan to being the workhorse this past season. How did he hold up over the season? I realize the college season is shorter than a Junior or AHL season but did his play suffer as a result of the increased workload?
Ken: His play didn't suffer from the all the work he got. He had a great defensive unit playing in front of him. Union allowed just 25 shots on goal per game, while it averaged 33 shots per game.
Tom: What is his best attribute as a goalie? Conversely, where is he weak and what part of his game will he need to work on the most this offseason to prepare himself for a AHL and possibly a NHL debut? How has Kinkaid reacted to adversities faced during a game? (regaining composure after being pulled in a game, letting in a soft goal) Can he quickly move past a tough situation or does he let a bad play bother him long after the play has occurred?
Ken: I'm going to combine these three questions into one answer. His best attributes is that he is very good with his rebounds, but more importantly, he doesn't let giving up a bad goal, or when his team is running around in its own zone, affect him. Keith is excellent in coming back by making a big save to settle his team down.
The one area of his game that he improved on between freshman and sophomore season was his stick-handling. Last season, he seemed uncomfortable clearing the puck up the ice. This season, he was more confident. However, I do believe he still needs to get better with that and, in particular, being quick to make the decision of when to come out to play the puck or when to stay in the net.
Tom: From the video I have been able to see of him, he seems like a butterfly style goalie. Would you agree? What current/past goalie does he remind you of when he plays?
Ken: I definitely agree. He reminds me of the great Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. With his size (6-foot-3), Patrick Roy comes to mind.
Tom: Also, feel free to add in any information that you think might be relevant for our audience.
Ken: The Devils are at a crossroads with their goaltending. Who knows how many more years Brodeur has left. Taking a look at the Devils' depth chart, it seems like they definitely need help in goal. I think Keith could have used one year at Union to develop his game. But when an organization is offering you a nice contract, it is tough to say no.
Once again, I want to thank Ken for being so helpful and timely with this article.
So, Devils fans...what are your thoughts on Kinkaid and the now crowded organizational depth at goalie? Is Kinkaid destined for the AHL next year or can he sneak up and snag the backup job? Sound off below and thanks for reading!!