According to the New Jersey Devils Twitter account (@NHLDevils), the team has recalled goaltender Keith Kinkaid from Albany to backup Johan Hedberg.
Hedberg is filling in for starting goaltender Martin Brodeur, who was a late scratch last Sunday due to back soreness. Brodeur did not practice today in New Jersey, meaning there is a strong chance that Hedberg will get his third straight start against Winnipeg on Thursday.
New Jersey Devils @NJDevils
We have recalled goaltender Keith #Kinkaid from the @albanydevils. http://t.co/UXLJEjgWvz2013-2-26 15:10:53
Kinkaid saw time with the Devils during last year's preseason, recording 10 saves and not giving up a goal during a 2-1 win against the New York Rangers on September 21, 2011 (h/t Sachem Patch). However, the 23-year-old prospect has still not seen the ice for a regular-season game.
Some may consider this move "insurance" for the injured Martin Brodeur, but New Jersey has not given a specific timetable for his return other than listing him as "day-to-day."
More importantly, Hedberg has not started three consecutive games since October 2012, when he had eight consecutive starts for the injured Brodeur.
Hedberg is fully capable of taking on the responsibility until Brodeur comes back, but it is still possible that Kinkaid gets a start before the Devils return home from their road trip.
New Jersey takes on the last-place Buffalo Sabres on March 2, and Hedberg is 0-1-1 with a 5.15 GAA against Buffalo since coming to New Jersey in 2010.
But now that Kinkaid is back at the NHL level, does this make him the future goaltender of the organization? Or is this just a temporary move?
The Devils have a number of great young goaltenders in the system, including former draft picks Jeff Frazee, Maxime Clermont and Scott Wedgewood. Each of these prospects has seen action in the AHL or ECHL, but only Frazee has gotten a chance as a backup in the NHL.
Despite getting a shot to dress last season, Frazee is slowly becoming a bust. Now 25, Frazee has still not gotten a start at the NHL level and has been splitting time in the AHL with Kinkaid over the past two seasons.
Clermont and Wedgewood are still progressing through the system, so it is likely that they are still a few years away from being called up to the NHL. Both Brodeur and Hedberg signed two-year deals during the offseason, so that will give the young guys a chance to mold into NHL players until 2014.
To me it seems that Kinkaid has become the Devils' number one goaltending prospect. While Wedgewood seems to have the most upside to his game, he is still growing in the ECHL and will likely take a few years until he is NHL-ready.
Kinkaid also had almost double the amount of starts in the AHL over Frazee, and had a much more success with a 17-11-5 record. Frazee may have been considered a top prospect in the organization a few years ago, but that has now passed.
For all we know Brodeur could return this weekend, and Kinkaid could be sent back to Albany.
However, the fact that Kinkaid got the call and Brodeur has not practiced raises the questions of whether or not Kinkaid will get a chance to start this year, and whether or not he is the future goaltender of this organization.