NEWARK, N.J. — Goaltending has been a significant issue in the Coyotes’ franchise worst 0-9-1 start. The Coyotes made a move to address that issue on Saturday, trading a fifth-round pick for New Jersey Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood, as 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station’s John Gambadoro first reported.
Wedgewood joined the Coyotes for their game against the Devils on Saturday, and goaltender Adin Hill was reassigned to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners.
Wedgewood, 25, has played in one game with the AHL’s Binghamton Devils this season, allowing one goal. He appeared in four NHL games with the Devils two seasons ago, allowing five goals for a .957 save percentage.
The trade comes as the Coyotes have been without starting goaltender Antti Raanta for all but 90 minutes of the season. Raanta has been recovering from a lower-body injury and has appeared in only three games, but he is nearing a return.
In Raanta’s absence, backups Louis Domingue (.858) and Hill (.880) have stepped in, but ranked 46th and 43rd respectively in the NHL in save percentage out of 50 goalies that have played, as of Friday. They were also 48th and 45th respectively in goals against average: Domingue at 4.36; Hill at 3.76.
“We just need someone to stop the puck,” general manager John Chayka said. “We’d been looking at some depth goalies for a while. Certainly, as things progressed here we thought it was necessary to get someone in here that had some experience and had some success at the American Hockey League level.”
When asked what the Coyotes would do when Raanta returns and they have three goalies on the NHL roster who are not waiver exempt, Chayka said it’s possible the Coyotes could keep all three for a while.
“It’s potentially the case,” he said. “Having said that, we’ve got some other players, some young players that we want to have up here to get some looks as well. We’ll see how it evolves. That’s not something I have to make a decision on today.”
Injuries have derailed some of Wedgewood’s opportunities the last two seasons, and he has spent the brunt of his career in the minor leagues. He suffered a high-ankle sprain two training camps ago and an injury to the same shoulder twice, having surgery on it on Nov. 29, 2016.
The Devils already have star goaltender Cory Schneider and they signed Keith Kincaid to a two-year deal this summer.
“I was in a situation where I didn’t have much room to get an opportunity outside an injury,” Wedgewood said. “I was obviously hoping for an opportunity anywhere, preferring it was in New Jersey at the time. Obviously this morning, that was changed.”
Wedgewood said experience has altered his perspective and approach to the position.
“When I was younger, sometimes you feel like you have to reinvent the wheel if you get scored on in certain situations,” he said. “Nothing changes for me on the ice any more. Every day is the same performance, the same work ethic and it pays dividends.
“I’m getting paid to stop the puck so I’m not going to come over here and try and change anything in the room.”
Hill re-joins a Roadrunners team that also has goalies Marek Langhamer and Hunter Miska. This isn’t the first time this season the three have been on the Tucson roster at the same time. Langhamer has an opt-out clause in his contract to play in the Czech Republic that kicks in in November if he chooses that route. The Coyotes would still own his rights.
Domingue started on Thursday against New Jersey. How many more starts he gets as a Coyote is up for debate after a rough start to the season and a logjam at the position.