Is Matt Hackett the Wild’s Goalie of the Future? Spoiler: Probably Not
Most fans will remember Hackett’s sparkling debut for the organization. On December6th, 2011, the Wild played on the road versus the San Jose Sharks. Nicklas Backstrom was unavailable for the game, and Josh Harding got the start but was injured just over a minute into the game. Hackett stepped in and stopped all 34 shots he faced. He started the club’s next game at the Los Angeles Kings and earned his second win, turning aside 42 of 44 shots for a .955 Sv%.
What a lot of people tend to forget, however, is that Hackett did not earn a victory in any of his starts for the rest of the year–his lone win came in a relief effort against the Phoenix Coyotes. His year-end stats weren’t horrible, a 2.38 GAA and a .922 Sv% is not terrible by any means for a rookie goaltender. However, his first two games heavily influenced his overall line. If you take away the San Jose and Los Angeles games, Hackett’s stats were as follows: 1-6 with a 2.73 GAA and a .902 Sv%.
Hackett has been playing in the AHL this year, and his numbers there are not terrific: 2-4 with a 3.32 GAA and a .887 Sv% going into today. He got the start this morning versus the San Antonio Rampage, and while he earned the victory, he allowed 5 goals on 26 shots and was bailed out by a seven-goal offensive game by the Aeros.
Hackett’s progress in the AHL this year could have ramifications for the Wild’s future plans at goalie. Backstrom’s contract is up at the end of this year (whether or not there is actually a season,) and even if the club re-signs him it won’t be for a more than a couple of years I would guess. Harding has been great at times, but he has also had injury troubles. The Wild will have to make a decision about Hackett, whether he can be a reliable NHL backstop. Based on his recent track record, it’s not looking good–but then again he is still rather young so as he continues to develop he might regain the form he exhibited during those two magical games last December.