The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly unlucky with injuries this year, and players coming back have backfired multiple times. However, there are many reasons why the situation is different with Mackenzie Blackwood.
Right now, the New Jersey Devils have multiple players who are on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season. That includes Miles Wood, who came back from hip surgery only to play three games and now he’s been shut down for the rest of the season. He’s in a contract year, so it should be interesting how the Devils handle that in the offseason. Jonathan Bernier has been shut down for a while now. Recently, Jonas Siegenthaler ended his best season early with a broken hand. Jack Hughes was taken down with a knee injury, and while the prognosis was mild, the Devils shut him down, too.
One player who has been shut down for a while but has been getting some ice time recently is supposed starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. He has been dealing with a heel injury literally all season. He got hurt in training camp, tried to practice through it before preseason games, ended up missing all of October and finally came back on November 5th. He was clearly still not confident in his ability, and he played below his talent level.
New Jersey Devils should get Mackenzie Blackwood into games to end the season.
He played through the injury until the beginning of January, and when it was clear this season wasn’t meaningful in any way, the Devils shut him down again. He hasn’t played since January 17th when he got destroyed by the Arizona Coyotes, the worst team in the league.
There is talk about whether it’s worth it to even let Mackenzie Blackwood play another game this season. The Devils currently have four goalies practicing in Blackwood, Andrew Hammond, Nico Daws, and Jon Gillies. They probably have to send one down to the Utica Comets in order to get Blackwood on the roster officially. That’s probably Daws, who’s been the best goalie on the roster this season. There have been seven goalies on this roster so far this year.
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However, there’s a huge reason the Devils should play Blackwood towards the end of the season. They need to see what he is. Is he cooked? Was it all because of the injury? He also needs to see where his heel is at. Can he play without pain? Is there a possibility he needs surgery? The Devils need to see where things stand. So does Blackwood.
The Devils are reportedly looking for a place to send Blackwood in the offseason. If he comes in and is terrible, then his value is basically the same as it is now. If he comes in and plays well, then his value skyrockets. There really is no downside to playing him now unless there’s a possibility it could aggravate his injury.
This could also propel Blackwood into next season. There is no secret things are rocky between the Devils and Blackwood, but a little goodwill at the end of the season could go a long way.