The New Jersey Devils have known for some time now that Martin Brodeur wouldn’t be their goaltender forever. They have been adding prospects to their farm system for the past couple years, but likely didn’t expect to get a look at some of them as early as this season. Brodeur continues to be sidelined with a back injury, and the poor play of Johan Hedberg during his extended absence has allowed two of the Devils’ goaltending prospects to make their NHL debuts in the past week.
Brodeur had an 8-2-3 record before being sidelined, as well as a 2.27 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. In his absence, Hedberg has struggled and the Devils have used Keith Kinkaid and Jeff Frazee in relief appearances. Kinkaid saw 25 minutes of action on Mar. 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced. He was returned to the Albany Devils the next day and Frazee was recalled to take his place. Frazee made his debut at the start of the third period in Saturday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He stopped all three shots he faced and seems to be the choice to stay with the Devils as Hedberg’s backup for the time being. Kinkaid signed with the Devils in 2011 after his sophomore season at Union College, while Frazee was a second round pick in 2005 and has spent the last five seasons in the AHL.
As a result of the call-ups to New Jersey, 2010 draft pick Scott Wedgewood was promoted to Albany. He has won both of his first two starts in the AHL and has a 1.44 goals against average. With Brodeur and Hedberg still under contract next season, Kinkaid and Wedgewood will likely still get a year of development in the AHL before either is considered ready for the NHL on a regular basis. Frazee will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and it will be interesting to see if the Devils keep him around or finally let him try to catch on somewhere else. One of the few positives of this unfortunate injury is that it has at least given the Devils a look at the talent they have in the minors.