New Jersey Devils Future? A Look At Keith Kinkaid

(Photo Courtesy of Rich Papelette/Rich Image Photgraphy)

(Photo Courtesy of Rich Papelette/Rich Image Photgraphy)

[We’d like to welcome Bryttani Jones to the DevilsInsiders.com team. She’ll be providing a lot of great features and game recaps so stay posted! You can follow her on twitter @BryttaniMarie]

By Bryttani Jones

A day after a devastating 5-1 loss to Washington on Feb. 24, we expected to see Marty back between the pipes against Winnipeg… Unfortunately due to a game-time decision, and Brodeur experiencing “a little soreness”, he sat out leaving Johan Hedberg in goal and, as we all know, we suffered another loss – setting our record down to 10-5-4.

While we still have Brodeur and Hedberg right now, the time is coming to start looking at, and putting work into, our prospective goaltenders come Marty & Moose’s departure. As of now, we have two promising players we need to consider; Keith Kinkaid and Jeff Frazee.

Albany goaltender Keith Kinkaid was called up on Feb. 26 and asked to practice with the team, excluding Marty. With Marty still on a day-to-day diagnosis, how do we feel about Kinkaid? Let’s take a look into his experience for a minute. Kinkaid was recruited right out of Union College. He was named the Goaltender of the Year and MVP in the NAHL in 08-09, ECAC Rookie of the Year in 09-10, and ECAC Goaltender of the Year in 10-11. With a resume like this, NJD made a good choice in a right-out-of-college recruit.

Kinkaid was assigned to Albany for 11-12, and was called up in October 2011 as a back-up – though he didn’t play. When Frazee was injured, Kinkaid began playing in his place.

(Photo Courtesy of Rich Papelette/Rich Image Photgraphy)

(Photo Courtesy of Rich Papelette/Rich Image Photgraphy)

He did well enough to be played outside of the realm of back-up, and started games even with Frazee being active.  In the 11-12 season, Kinkaid’s save percentage was 90.4%, while Frazee just barely inched past him at 90.6%. Albany’s penalty kill was one of the worst in the league, (though honestly – the team in general was not all that fantastic during the season). While he’s not a big guy in relation to weight, he makes up for it in height. Standing at 6’3, he works the net very well – Kinkaid has great puck-handling skills, excels in working the rebounds, and stays calm and composed after an opponent’s scoring play.

So with a high-level overview of Kinkaid, there’s one burning question on my, and I’m sure others, minds… Kinkaid over Frazee? Frazee above Kinkaid? Let’s think this over just a bit. While Frazee is a big guy, Kinkaid’s size is better for working the net. Unfortunately Frazee’s flexibility, and possibly even his handling skills, outshines that of Kinkaid. He does, however, have an inability to stay healthy and in game-ready shape – he’s prone to injuries, and while I would never want to hold that against him, it does have an effect on the team. Then there is the question of his junior year at the University of Minnesota… but let’s start at the beginning.

Frazee started his freshman year at U of Minn. very hopeful. He was named as one of the best goaltenders going in. He was thought of as the man who would turn it around for U of Minn. He was envisioned as being Don Lucia’s future right-hand-man – but that was hardly the case.

Freshman year, Frazee was involved with the Blarney Pub and Grill affair – he was chased down by media and questioned on underage drinking. This was followed by being named the reason for losing a mid-January game against North Dakota (05-06), resulting in Frazee only being started in net twice for the rest of that year.  The following season was better for him – though Kellen Briggs was favored throughout most of the season and especially in the playoffs, Frazee started in 20 games, and won 14 . Now we get to his Junior year.

Frazee had been starting in the net for the majority of the first half of the season, but Alex Kangas was hell-bent and working on being in the #1 spot. In mid-January, Frazee fell apart.  During a game at St. Cloud, he gave up a pathetic goal, and proceeded to skate out of the net prior to the end of the first period (this almost cost them the game),  Frazee then proceeded to signal “no goal” to the audience – causing Lucia to stare Frazee down with a look of death. Come the second period, Frazee was out, and would remain out from there on.

Would I like a player with abilities of Jeff Frazee in NJD the net? Sure.  With his background? Perhaps not so much. Do we really need a hot-head between the pipes when Marty retires? I’d say no. We need to invest in someone who can hold their composure, and still have the skills and size of a great goaltender. We need someone who can come close to the level Marty is at – and let’s get real here, it’s going to be hard for ANY goaltender to consider coming close to Marty or Moose. I personally would love to see Marty’s son Anthony in our net at the Rock one day – but there’s no guarantee that would be the case. And even with the accomplishments he has under his belt, and being called up this week, my feelings toward Kinkaid are simple: I believe he needs another year or two (MAYBE three) to develop a bit more before we try to put him in the net on a regular basis. But I am VERY hopeful for Kinkaid’s future in the league – and see him helping us towards many wins come shortly after Marty & Moose’s retirement.