Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
The Admirals’ ace was a pending restricted free agent.
On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators announced they have signed goaltender Connor Ingram to a three-year contract extension. The 22-year-old, who was acquired via trade from Tampa last June, was scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer after appearing in 33 games for the Milwaukee Admirals this past season.
I’ve been fairly vocal about Ingram’s potential all season long, but I’ll break down what this deal means below.
By The Numbers
There’s only so many ways to say this, but if any questions from last summer about Ingram’s ceiling as an NHL goalie remain, then I don’t know who you’re watching. Even before this season in Milwaukee, Ingram, a third-round pick in 2016, has always had the pedigree of a potential NHL starter, going back to his WHL days. He was very good in his days with the Syracuse Crunch, then 2018-19 brought some speed bumps, and he was in a league of his own in 2019-20.
Ingram started 31 games for the Admirals this season, alternating starts with Troy Grosenick. His 0.933 save percentage was third-best in the AHL; he finished the season with a 0.710 quality start rate, and his 22.996 goals saved above average was best in the AHL.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time manually tracking prospects this season, and I’m happy to debut a full season of numbers breaking down Ingram’s save percentage by shot quality:
It remains to be seen if Troy Grosenick, an unrestricted free agent, will be back in Milwaukee next season. I see little reason for him not to be but, regardless, Ingram should carry a bit more of the starting load in 2020-21. Ingram is nearly NHL-ready (if not already so), and a strong season next year will only fast-track a decision in Nashville that David Poile will have to make.
The Scouting Tape
I won’t spend too much time breaking down Ingram’s game tape, but I do want to share a few clips outside the normal highlight reel saves that get circulated on Twitter.
Two things I’ve noticed have been sharper this season are how Ingram seals his posts and how much more effective he is at maximizing his edges. As the puck cycles from side to side at the beginning of this clip above, notice how Ingram is constantly engaging with the post and reinforcing his seal of those corners. Despite covering those borders well, you see how effectively he’s pushing over and out to the top the crease; that positioning and his athleticism combine to allow for an impressive high-danger save.
In the save shown above, I love how quickly Ingram shifts from covering the near-side post—as he expects the puck carrier to crash the net or go below the goal line—to producing a proper butterfly stance perfectly square to the puck.
Ingram can still scramble laterally at times, but it’s rarely to bail out his own poor positioning. In the clip above, Ingram begins the sequence fighting off the initial shot with his blocker; anyone can nitpick about rebound placement, so I’ll let that one go. But, on the ensuing shot, he maintains good depth in his crease, so when the shot sails wide, he’s not totally out of a potential wraparound play. You can see almost effortless edge work there to get across the crease before he squares back up to the puck.
Of course, Ingram frequently proved his game-breaking ability for the Admirals this season and that’s another important thing going for him; rare are the nights he has to reset himself and even less frequent are those he can’t do it mid-game with a save like the one above.
Ingram’s contract extension takes him through the 2022-23 season with a cap hit of $733.3K each season. The important detail here is Ingram’s salary increases as the contract progresses. In 2020-21, Ingram’s NHL salary is $700K and his AHL salary is $120K; in 2021-22, his NHL salary is $750K and AHL salary is $125K, and in 2022-23, his salary is $750K in the NHL and AHL.
Upon expiry, Ingram will be a restricted free agent.