New Jersey Devils Bring Keith Kinkaid Back In Strange Agreement With Chicago Wolves

New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid (1) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid (1) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils do not make the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs without the performance of two players specifically, Taylor Hall and Keith Kinkaid. Of course, Hall was the catalyst for the run, and he was recognized by the league with the Hart Trophy. Kinkaid was actually benched in the playoffs for Cory Schneider after he was overwhelmed by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since the Devils traded Kinkaid for a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. That was back in 2019.

Kinkaid never suited up for the Blue Jackets, who added Kinkaid as protection to Sergei Bobrovsky. He signed with the Montreal Canadiens that offseason. He spent most of that season with the Laval Rocket, but he was even loaned to the Charlotte Checkers. That offseason, he signed as depth with the New York Rangers.

After signing with the Boston Bruins last offseason, he only played one regular-season game in the black and yellow, a dominant performance against the Buffalo Sabres in November. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, but his one performance there wasn’t nearly as good.

Kinkaid hasn’t played more than 10 NHL games in a season since leaving the Devils. He is a quintessential third goalie. Now, at age 34, he returns to where it all began to get one more shot at his NHL dream. However, it doesn’t come without complications.

Kinkaid signed with the Chicago Wolves back in July. They do not have an NHL affiliation this season, so they were looking for veteran talent with the lack of prospects from another team’s system to borrow from. Kinkaid provided that steady hand for the rest of the team. So the question for the Wolves is… now what?

Well, it appears the Wolves can still use Kinkaid when he isn’t playing for the Devils. That means Kinkaid would not be eligible to go to the Utica Comets, who already have Erik Kallgren, Nico Daws, and possibly Akira Schmid to give starter minutes to. They also have Isaac Poulter and Tyler Brennan, who will both need reps in net. Adding Kinkaid, a goalie who doesn’t need reps like a younger goalie might, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Having this outlet to the Chicago Wolves is an interesting element to this deal.

As we understand it, Kinkaid’s AHL rights are still owned by the Wolves. However, if Kinkaid is playing in the AHL, the Devils will still pay for his $350,000 salary. It’s an interesting loophole that doesn’t come up very often.

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Does anyone expect Kinkaid to find the magic he had in 2018? No, but he’s depth for a team that surprisingly needs it. Vitek Vanecek is the only sure NHLer on the roster. Kallgren has experience, and Schmid was great in the playoffs. Daws has NHL experience, too, but he’s a huge question mark after hip surgery. This is a deal that makes sense, and if he is on the roster, it only costs the Devils $775,000. Plus, the Devils finally know that Czechia right winger Petr Hauser with the pick they got from Columbus. So, it’s ironic how things come full circle.