The New Jersey Devils backup goalie position has been a major problem for years. With a new announcement from team leaders, are they trying out Louis Domingue for the job?
Before the New Jersey Devils came back from the break, they announced that they plan on taking some of the load off of starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. The 23-year-old netminder has played in 36 of 49 games so far this season. He’s on pace for a 60-game workload, and honestly it’s just not necessary. The Devils are 20 points out of a playoff spot, and it’s just not a possible hole to climb out of.
After Cory Schneider looked like the progression he showed late last year and during the offseason was al a rouge, Ray Shero made a move to get a “backup” plan (pun intended). He traded a conditional 2021 7th-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Louis Domingue. The goalie had spent the past six seasons in the NHL, and was a big reason why the Lightning were able to break regular season records last season. Yet, for some reason, the Lightning had him in Syracuse this season.
Last year, Domingue went 21-5. Yes, the Lightning were insane in front of him, but he still has to make stops. His save percentage doesn’t look great overall (.908 on the season), but two terrible performances really hurt his overall numbers. Still, it’s interesting that after last season the Lightning felt the need to go get Curtis McElhinney.
Domingue has been very average for most of the time with the Devils, but showed flashes of being really good. A back-to-back performance where he beat the Metropolitan-leading Washington Capitals and the aforementioned Lightning in one weekend was the stuff of legends. If felt very Eddie Lack beating the Lightning two years ago on the way to the Devils making the playoffs.
With Domingue getting more work towards the end of the season, is this a tryout for the Devils to re-sign the 27 year old? The biggest question is, should it be?
The big problem here is the backup goalie market it absolutely stacked this season. Robin Lehner is the main target, and absolutely should be someone the Devils go after on July 1st. He’s not nearly the only one. Jaroslav Halak, Cam Talbot, Thomas Greiss, Anton Khudobin, Ryan Miller and Garrett Sparks are all available. That’s not even including the former starters like Jimmy Howard and Craig Anderson who may just be looking for a cushy 30-game job to finish off their careers.
Honestly, Domingue cannot compete with those players. Does he deserve to be in the NHL? Probably, but his propensity to fall completely off the rails is a real problem. We’re not talking about the run-of-the-mill five goal performance. We’re talking about six or seven in two periods. The Devils cannot rely on that when Blackwood, although not as much, can also be responsible for this kind of disaster.
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Domingue is a nice player for right now. Let him play some games to raise his value and let Blackwood rest. Then, let him go while the Devils use whatever money they save from the Cory Schneider buyout to get a legitimate backup.