5 Bold Predictions For New Jersey Devils This Season

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29): (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports) /

Mackenzie Blackwood Will Be In Vezina Conversations

Awards seasons more often than not is all about the narrative. Taylor Hall won the MVP not because he was the best player in the league, but because he carried a less talented Devils team to the playoffs on his back. Connor Helleybuck won the Vezina Trophy last year not because he was leading the NHL in any stats, but because he was doing everything possible to help the Jets stay in contention. This is a similar situation for Mackenzie Blackwood this season.

Blackwood was supposed to be in a 50-50 split with former Stanley Cup Champion Corey Crawford, but the Chicago Blackhawks great was not feeling it in New Jersey and he retired days before the season started. That has to be a shock to the system for Blackwood and the Devils, but he can bounce back.

It’s not like Blackwood hasn’t had to carry the load before. Last season, Cory Schneider was expected to be in a similar split, but his season went off the rails as soon as it began. He couldn’t make it out of the first game without an injury. At least this time, Blackwood has a few days to prepare.

That narrative along with really good stats will lead to Blackwood getting a lot of hype towards Vezina Trophy contention. He won’t end up winning it because of where the Devils end in the standings, but well into April, it seems like a possibility. He’s winning as many games as the Devils allow him to. Analysts will recognize that, and he will be considered a different pick to the usual Andrei Vasilevskiy and Tuukka Rask picks.