Heralded as the savior of the Colorado’s season last year, Andrew Hammond found himself in between the pipes during the Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round match-up against the Nashville Predators. After both Jonathan Bernier and Semyon Varlamov went down with injury either just before the post-season or during, Hammond provided solid goaltending in Game 5 2-1 win for the Avalanche to force a Game 6.
It’s tough to call a goalie that played in just one NHL game during the regular season a “steal” or should it be considered “grand larceny” for acquiring him in the Matt Duchene trade, but the Denver media did just that. Hammond played a total of 137 minutes in the first round series and posted a 1-1 record, 2.62 Goals Against Average, and six goals against.
The legend of “the Hamburglar,” as he was bestowed that nickname during his days in Ottawa, grew because of an amazing 20-1-2 run in the spring of 2015 as the Senators scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs. He posted a .941 save percentage in 24 games that season. Unfortunately, he never re-discovered that magic as he followed up that season with a .914 in 24 games the following year, until he plummeted to .837 in six appearances in 2016-17.
He was a likely thrown in to the Duchene deal to help make the money even for the Avalanche. For the Avalanche organization, he struggled in the AHL. He posted an 8-6 record in 18 games played for the Bellevue Senators prior to finding one game with San Antonio. His 3.21 GAA and .904 save percentage isn’t going to jump off the page to anyone.
Now at 30 years old, the Wild have signed him to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650k in the NHL and $300k in the AHL to push back-up Alex Stalock and backstop the Iowa Wild. Iowa jettisoned all of the goalies in the organization. Niklas Svedberg is gone, Steve Michalek signed abroad, and Adam Vay was not retained. The only goalie that was on the Iowa roster prior to Hammond signing was Wild 2014 4th pick Kaapo Kahkonen. Kahkonen was signed to an entry-level deal just this spring. With this deal, the Wild add a goalie on the cheap, and a guy that has had some games in the NHL.
As for a goalie that can push Devan Dubnyk, this move does little to move the needle. Goalies like Carter Hutton (wanting a number 1 starter job) and Petr Mrazek (likely too expensive for what the Wild need) were all still on the market when the Hammond signing was announced. Back-up goaltending is definitely an area that needs to be addressed in the future, but the Wild seem keen on signing free agent stop-gaps until they can draft and develop a netminder. That said, without a meaningful goaltending prospect in the pipeline other than Kahkonen, the hope is that Kahkonen actually pans out. And Hammond is that stop-gap.