After not offering a contract to Czech goalie Karel Vejmelka before the June 1st deadline, Nashville was left at two goalies signed in the organization outside of Nashville. After today’s trade, that number jumps to three, with the acquisition of Connor Ingram from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 7th-round pick in 2021.
Before I get into the breakdown of his game, I want to address the season that Ingram had. I spent the past couple years in Syracuse watching Ingram live and getting close with people who know him. The talent is undeniable. The fine folks over at Raw Charge have done a good job of summarizing briefly what went down last season here. Joe Smith, of The Athletic, went into further detail here.
The crux of the issue is this: Ingram was riding high as one of the best netminders in the AHL this season, getting named to the AHL All-Star Game. On March 6, he was demoted to the ECHL with little to no contact from the staff in Syracuse after a string of healthy-scratches. Ingram was recalled a few weeks later but never played before the Crunch added Atte Tolvanen and demoted Ingram once more. Ingram stated in March that he never asked Julien BriseBois for a trade.
I won’t speak about the person he is or isn’t; I know plenty of people in Syracuse who couldn’t say a bad thing about him. It’s a curious circumstance that likely forced Tampa’s hand. At the end of the day, his talent demands he should be challenging for NHL time soon, but whether that was agreed upon by the powers that be in Syracuse or not is not up to me to decide.
By The Numbers
Ingram was one of the best Major Junior goalies of his time, posting back-to-back seasons with a save percentage higher than .920 with the Kamloops Blazers. He split time with fellow WHL star Carter Hart at the 2017 World Junior Championships for Canada.
In his first full season in Syracuse, he appeared in 35 games with a 0.914 save percentage and a cup of coffee in the ECHL. Last season, however, Ingram’s game really started to take shape.
The third-round pick in 2016 started 21 games and appeared in one more, finishing with a 14-7-0 record and six (!!!) shutouts. He faced 28.91 shots per 60 minutes but only had 11 Quality Starts (a start above the league-average save percentage or when the goalie allows two or fewer goals and posst a save percentage above the league-average). Most importantly, he had a 11.409 goals-saved above average rate, good for 14th in the league among goalies with 20+ starts.
Ingram went on to start 13 more games in the ECHL with Orlando and posted a 0.914 save percentage.
The Eye Test
I saw a good amount of Ingram live in Syracuse; I will do my best to translate my thoughts with some clips below.
In the clip above, you will notice the bedrock of Ingram’s game is his technical movement. He’s fluid with his pad control even as the puck crosses the slot and doesn’t often use the perimeter to cover holes.
Here is another example of that cross-crease movement.
Despite this being an iffy goal to give up, notice how quickly Ingram re-adjusts to the pick and tapers his depth in the crease accordingly.
Ingram has displayed moments like the one above. His technical movement is still good, but he shows a lack of control with his edges that leads to him being drawn horribly out of position.
While Ingram is generally tight with his coverage down low, he can be picked up high on the glove side as a weakness at times. Notice how he maintains that hand closer to his chest here as he works to bring his whole frame over instead of extending his arm.
Overall, Ingram has been a highly-touted prospect that can give you saves like the one above frequently when he’s on his game. There is still room for maturation and timing, but, like I said, the talent is abundant.
Ingram has one year remaining on his entry-level contract with a cap hit of $759.2K and a minors salary of $70K. Upon expiry he will be a restricted free agent.