The Arizona Coyotes at 0-9-1 two games into a five-game road trip, and if they want good news, they’ll need to wait a while.
Saturday brings a transaction that essentially serves as indirect bad news that Antti Raanta likely needs more time to get healthy. The Coyotes sent a 2018 fifth-round pick to the New Jersey Devils for depth goalie Scott Wedgewood today.
This feels like a very low-stakes version of that moment from “Moneyball” where a player ended up changing locker rooms after the Oakland A’s added him in a trade, as the Coyotes face the Devils in New Jersey tonight. Wedgewood will back up Louis Domingue while Adin Hill goes to the AHL:
Wedgewood, 25, has been solid in spotty appearances lately, most impressively managing a .933 save percentage in 22 AHL games back in 2015-16. His overall stats are rather pedestrian, making these reasonable for both sides (the Coyotes cover a base with Raanta out, the Devils get a pick for a guy who wasn’t high on the depth chart).
The 25-year-old Wedgewood is 1-0-0 with a 1.00 goals against average (GAA) and a .973 save percentage (SV%) with the Binghamton Devils (AHL) this season. He owns a 51-36-9 record with a 2.35 GAA, a .908 SV% and eight shutouts in 110 career AHL appearances.
Ultimately, a lot still comes down to Raanta coming back. Craig Morgan broke down Arizona’s serious goalie issues for AZ Sports, with this Rick Tocchet quote standing out.
“We need some stops,” Tocchet said after the loss to the Rangers. “I hate to say it. Hilly’s a great kid. He’s a young kid, but we need stops.”
So far, the Coyotes have a team save percentage of .874; the NHL average is currently at .910, making it tough to imagine all but the most explosive offenses surviving such struggles.
Maybe a Domingue – Wedgewood can at least approach a .900 mark, which isn’t the highest bar to clear, but would be better than this current mess. Either way, the Coyotes have to be anxious to see Raanta, both to (hopefully) boost performances and also to evaluate if the long-time backup can hack it as a top goalie or platoon feature.
It’s tough to forecast sunny days anytime soon for this winless group, but perhaps they can at least get their heads back above water.