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Canes ink LaFontaine to ELC

The Carolina Hurricanes signed collegiate goalie Jack LaFontaine to an ELC Sunday, injecting some needed goaltending depth back into the organization.

NHL: JUN 30 Hurricanes Prospect Camp Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes made a pretty rare transaction Sunday afternoon, signing University of Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine to an entry-level contract mid NCAA season.

LaFontaine, who was drafted by the Hurricanes in the third round back in 2016, won the Mike Richter Award last season, given to the NCAA’s top goaltender. So far in 2021-22, LaFontaine was 12-8-0 with a 2.69 GAA and .900 SV % for the Golden Gophers.

The Hurricanes’ organizational goaltending depth has taken a hit in the past few days, from the NHL down. NHL netminder Antti Raanta missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury, with AHL goaltender Alex Lyon getting the start for the Canes off the Taxi Squad.

For the Wolves, Eetu Makiniemi will be sidelined for a few weeks, while Beck Warm also suffered an injury in morning skate.

Here is the full release from the Hurricanes on LaFontaine:

RALEIGH, N.C. – Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed goaltender Jack LaFontaine to a one-year, entry-level contract. The deal will pay LaFontaine $750,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level through the end of the 2021-22 season. LaFontaine will receive a signing bonus of $88,500.

“As the reigning Mike Richter Award recipient, Jack has proven he’s ready to take the next steps in his career,” said Waddell. “We love his athleticism and consistency and can’t wait for him to start his professional career.”

LaFontaine, 24, earned a 12-8-0 record, 2.69 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 20 NCAA games with Minnesota in 2021-22. He was named the Big Ten Second Star of the Week on Nov. 2 after stopping 54 of 57 shots in a weekend sweep of Notre Dame. LaFontaine was named one of Minnesota’s tri-captains prior to the start of the season after serving as one of the team’s alternate captains last season. The 6’2”, 204-pound netminder posted a 22-7-0 record, 1.79 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and five shutouts in 29 games with the Gophers in 2020-21, leading all Division I goaltenders in wins and ranking tied for second in save percentage and shutouts and fourth in goals-against average. LaFontaine won the Mike Richter Award as the top goaltender in Division I and was also named Big Ten Goaltender of the Year, Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player, a First-Team All-American and a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in college hockey. He played 96 collegiate games with Michigan and Minnesota from 2016-22, posting a 2.52 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and five shutouts. The Mississauga, Ont., native also spent one year with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) in 2018-19, posting a 30-13-1 record, 2.19 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and three shutouts. He ranked tied for the league lead in save percentage and ranked second in wins and goals-against average, earning Top Goaltender and First-Team All-Star honors. LaFontaine was selected by Carolina in the third round, 75th overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.