LaFontaine, Division I goalie of year, signs contract with Hurricanes

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Jack LaFontaine signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. He will be paid $750,000 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the American Hockey League level through the end of this season.

LaFontaine, a third-round pick (No. 75) by the Hurricanes at the 2016 NHL Draft, is turning pro in the middle of the college hockey season with the University of Minnesota. The 24-year-old goalie from Mississauga, Ontario, was 12-8-0 with a 2.69 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in 20 games.

Last season, he won the Mike Richter Award voted as the top goalie in NCAA Division I after going 22-7-0 with a 1.79 GAA, a .934 save percentage and five shutouts in 29 games. He led Division I goalies in wins and was tied for second in save percentage and shutouts. LaFontaine 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.

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

LaFontaine may not have to wait long to make his NHL debut. Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta was scratched for a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday because of an upper-body injury.Alex Lyon was recalled from the taxi squad and made 32 saves. Frederik Andersen made 36 saves in a 6-3 win against the Calgary Flames on Friday.

Goalie prospects Eetu Makiniemi (Chicago of the AHL) and Beck Warm (Norfolk of the ECHL) each is injured.

“We’ll play it by ear and see how things are here with the goalie situation,” Waddell told The News &¬†Observer. “We definitely want to give him a chance. … We’ve got to find out what we’ve got here.”

LaFontaine played 96 collegiate games with Minnesota (2019-22) and the University of Michigan (2016-18). He had a 2.52 GAA, a .915 save percentage and five shutouts.

“We would like to thank Jack for his contributions to the Gophers program, and we wish him well as he begins his professional career,” Minnesota coach Bob Motzko said in a statement issued by the university.

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