The Minnesota Wild have recently found themselves in the middle of a goalie carousel. Usually reserved for a team that wants to contend but just needs to find the right personnel between the pipes, the Wild desired a change and got exactly that — mostly on purpose but by accident too.
Trading away former starter Devan Dubnyk to the San Jose Sharks and signing free agent Cam Talbot to a three-year deal, is definitely a much-needed upgrade in net that should result in some more positive results in the upcoming season, but there is some recent news that might shake things up even a little more.
Hearing #mnwild are close to signing veteran goalie Andrew Hammond, which may mean Alex Stalock’s hurt entering camp. I heard he hasn’t been on the ice.— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) December 16, 2020
Opens door for Kaapo Kahkonen to back up Cam Talbot; Hammond’s played 56 NHL games, was tandem w/ Kahkonen in 18-19 in Iowa.
As Michael Russo previously speculated, Minnesota is adding one of the few free agent goaltenders in Andrew Hammond, signing him to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $700,000 at the NHL level, and $200,000 in the AHL.
The #mnwild has signed goaltender Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract.— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 16, 2020
In addition, the team announced that goaltender Alex Stalock is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
» https://t.co/WT1nrqohR7 pic.twitter.com/Pfk5FL7saD
Along with the announcement of the signing, the Wild disclosed that projected backup Alex Stalock is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
As Russo further speculated in one single tweet — this will likely result in young netminder Kaapo Kahkonen being awarded the backup spot behind Talbot whenever the new season starts. Familiarity with the Wild organization doesn’t hurt Hammond either, as the 32-year-old appeared in 33 games for Iowa during the 2018-19 season.
Kahkonen more than deserves this opportunity to get some significant NHL time. In just his second season in North America, the 24-year-old was able to sustain a .927 save percentage and a .207 goals against average with Iowa last season. That performance eventually earned him his first five NHL appearances, where he was able to keep a .913 save percentage and a 2.97 goals against average; while the Wild were able to earn seven of the possible 10 points in the standings during those five Kahkonen starts.
While the Finn can no doubt keep up with the responsibilities of being an NHL backup, he will still likely make his way back down to Iowa — or wherever they end up playing — when Stalock regains full health.
Hammond isn’t a bad option to have either. He can carry some games during the early part of the AHL season while Kahkonen is making his big-league mark, and then serve as a reasonable minor-league backup when everything is back to relative normalcy. Especially considering that the other two options — Hunter Jones and Dereck Baribeau are 20 and 21 years of age respectfully, there is an empty roles of fourth-string netminder on the Wild’s depth chart and Hammond can more than serve in that position.
Given his heroics with the 2014-15 Ottawa Senators, he’s not a bad option just in case everything turns sour and the Wild are hit with an injury pandemic.