New Jersey Devils: Don’t Copy Florida Panthers’ Goalie Route

The New Jersey Devils might be in the market for another goalie, but they should not take the same route as the Florida Panthers.

The New Jersey Devils play the Florida Panthers tonight. The Panthers are in the middle of a playoff race and the Devils are not. They have made some significant additions to their team over the summer leading into the year. One of the biggest is head coach Joel Quenneville. He has brought the winning pedigree that he acquired in his time with the Chicago Blackhawks to Sunrise.

With that said, Sergei Bobrovsky might be an even bigger addition that they made. They knew they had some great and talented skaters but you can’t win without a goalie. Ahead of his age 31 season, the Panthers gave him a seven-year deal at ten million dollars a year. That is a lofty contract for a guy who is in the back half of his career. Bobrovsky has been elite for pretty much his entire career as he is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner.

The problem is that he hasn’t played like a five million dollar goalie let alone a ten million dollar goalie. He has a record of 20-15-5. His .898 save percentage and 3.27 goals-against average are some pretty awful numbers. They look even worse when you remember he has six more years after this one at ten million dollars. They also drafted Spencer Knight in the 2019 NHL Draft with the 13th overall pick.

This is the route that the Devils do not want to go down. Goalies impact the game in a huge way but you need to make sure you don’t hurt the team long term. Just look at Bobrovsky’s old team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. They have Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo making about two million dollars combined. Merzlinaks has a .930 save percentage and 2.19 goals-against average. Korpisalo was named an All-Star before his injury and has a .913 save percentage to go with his 2.49 goals-against average.

Most of the good teams in the NHL have two really good goalies playing a 1A-1B type role. Nobody does it better than the Boston Bruins with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Spending a large portion of your cap space is not the way to get it done in the NHL. The Devils do not want to become the Florida Panthers in that aspect.

They already have MacKenzie Blackwood who is having a pretty good year. He enters this game vs Florida coming off of two straight shutouts. If the Devils can continue to see Blackwood play well, they can use him on a cheaper deal than paying big bucks for a guy like Brayden Holtby or Robin Lehner in free agency. The key will be to find another guy to be the backup or even split time with him. It is a big key to this offseason for whoever is running this team by the time they get to decision-making time.