January 9, 2023
Trevor Kidd: A Fresh Start for
a Former 1st Round Pick
By Jeb Bohn
This is the second in a series of posts looking back at the myriad of goaltenders the Carolina Hurricanes have utilized over the years. You can read the first article here.
Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford faced the daunting task of assembling a competitive team to play not only in a new market but in a temporary home. A former NHL netminder, Rutherford understood the importance of having solid goaltending if his team hoped to impress their new fans.
Sean Burke was expected to be the #1, a role he held during the end of the team’s run in Hartford. After that, things became murky.
Jason Muzzatti—Burke’s backup for two seasons and Carolina’s current goaltending coach—struggled during the 1996-97 season after a fair showing in his first season with the Whalers. The franchise had prospect Jean-Sebastien Giguere but didn’t want to rush the 19-year-old into NHL action.
Intent on solidifying the position, Rutherford turned to the trade market.
Killing Two Birds
The Calgary Flames were trending downward. Over four seasons from 1992 through 1996, the Flames finished either 1st or 2nd in their division. The 1996-97 season saw Calgary drop to a 5th-place divisional finish while falling out of playoff contention.
The primary culprit was their flailing offense. Captain Theo Fleury, who posted 46 goals and 96 points the season prior, dropped to 29 goals and 67 points while the team as a whole scored 27 fewer goals.
In contrast, the team’s defense held firm, backstopped by the duo of Trevor Kidd and Rick Tabaracci. Kidd, selected 11th overall at the 1990 NHL Draft—nine picks ahead of future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur—finished his 5th season in Calgary with his heaviest workload, appearing in 55 games for the Flames.
While goaltending wasn’t an overwhelming concern, Kidd wasn’t performing at the level expected from a first-round pick. Tabaracci, meanwhile, outperformed his platoon mate while late-bloomer Dwayne Roloson forced his way into Calgary’s lineup.
With the Hurricanes seeking to bolster their netminding and the Flames in search of help on offense, the teams began talking. Then, on August 25, 1997, they struck a deal: Giguere and center Andrew Cassells went to Calgary; Kidd and winger Gary Roberts came to Raleigh-erm, Greensboro.
Kidd Steps Up
Now, Carolina’s inaugural season wasn’t much of a success. The woeful offense managed just 200 goals, placing the team 21st out of 26 teams. This anemic performance placed more reliance on goaltending, showing Rutherford’s off-season concern to be well-founded.
Kidd appeared in 47 games in his first season with the Hurricanes, posting career-best marks in save percentage (.922) and goals against average (2.17), adding 3 shutouts for good measure. Of the five goaltenders to suit up for Carolina, Kidd was by far the best.
He also sported one of the best-looking goalie kits around.
While the Hurricanes failed to land a playoff appearance, no one could place the blame on Kidd. Despite finishing the season with rough outings against Toronto and Boston, he played as well as anyone could rightly expect.
Following the 1997-98 campaign, the Hurricanes cut ties with every goalie that saw action, with Kidd being the lone exception. Again, Rutherford set out to add a goaltender, this time turning to free agency. He found his man in Arturs Irbe—who will absolutely have his own article—a veteran coming off a 1-year stint with the Vancouver Canucks.
Through the first month of the season, Irbe appeared in eight games, allowing just six goals in that span. Kidd got into just three games in October, allowing 10 goals and posting an 0-2-1 record. Irbe’s record? 4-1-2.
Kidd rebounded with a strong December, stopping 92% of the shots he faced and winning three of his four appearances. Inconsistency plagued Kidd throughout the season and he ceded more and more playing time to Irbe. By season’s end, Kidd played in only 25 games, winning just seven of them.
The Hurricanes made their postseason debut in the spring of 1999, bowing out in six games against the Boston Bruins. Irbe was the only goalie to see time for Carolina.
Kidd’s run with the Hurricanes came to an end when the team left him exposed during the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft, where the Atlanta Thrashers selected him before flipping him to the Florida Panthers.
Trevor Kidd impressed in his first season with the Hurricanes and seemed poised to grow with his new team. Unfortunately, the arrival of Irbe came with a decline in Kidd’s play. While his overall impact was minimal, I hate to think what Carolina’s inaugural season would have looked like without Kidd’s strong performance.