The Syracuse Crunch are getting some more help before the playoffs begin.
After getting Cristiano DiGiacinto (for just a week of practice) and Brayden Point after their respective CHL seasons ended and Matt Peca from Quinnipiac, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced late on Wednesday evening that University of Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox has signed a 2-year deal with the team and is already in Syracuse on an ATO.
Wilcox just finished his junior season at the University of Minnesota, and will burn his final year of NCAA eligibility by turning pro. He finished the year with a .912 save percentage in 38 games with the Golden Gophers, a noticeably downward trend following .921 and .932 seasons in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Contract details via Erik Erlendsson:
#TBLightning have signed F Adam Wilcox to a 2-year entry level contract, he will report to to Syracuse on an ATO for the rest of the season— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) April 2, 2015
Wilcox's deal, then, looks an awful lot like Matt Peca's.
Syracuse, who had been relying on Allen York to spell Kristers Gudlevskis in net, will likely turn to Wilcox instead now. York, who was signed as an ECHL-AHL tweener to backfill in case something should happen with Andrei Vasilevskiy (which it did), has appeared in only 6 games for the Crunch this year with a .902 save percentage. The organization has no vested interest in giving York playing time, but has likely promised (and will follow through on) Wilcox the opportunity to earn a role with the Crunch.
The ATO prevents the 2-year entry-level contract from kicking in right away, so Wilcox (like Peca) will be in the fold through the 2016-17 season. The immediate future sees him competing with Gudlevskis for the starting gig in Syracuse; long-term, there's an uphill climb to tandeming with Andrei Vasilevskiy at the NHL level.
It all beings with adjusting to the rigors of a pro schedule, which features more games per year than he's used to, and the skill and patterns on display in the AHL as compared to the NCAA. Expect Gudlevskis to still carry the load for the Crunch, but Wilcox to be worked in if the need arises. Competition for the #1 spot in Syracuse begins in earnest at training camp this off season, but Wilcox has a big opportunity now to get a head start with goaltending coach David Alexander.