2nd of 3 Decisions: Find Any Way to Get Good Goaltending
One expectation coming into the season everyone agreed on was that Mackenzie Blackwood would continue his excellence. Then, Blackwood suffered a heel injury before the season, and things never really got going.
Unfortunately, they lost goalie Jonathan Bernier due to injury as well. With both gone for a while, the Devils had to use Utica goalie Nico Daws for most of the year. While Daws did have a lot of great games and certainly has potential, he still has some goaltending issues he needs to work out.
When the Devils tried to put Jon Gillies in games, it ended in total disaster, and he had to get taken out several times. The Devils decided to pick up Andrew Hammond during the NHL Trade Deadline in March. Hammond indeed has shown he wants to help them win, but his talent from Ottawa isn’t there anymore. However, Hammond did help the Devils put a dagger in the Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff chances, so that’s something to make someone smile.
How will Fitzgerald address the goalie situations during the offseason? There are a couple of ways that Fitzgerald could get another goaltender to add to the staff. First, if they want to add a UFA goalie, they could focus on younger additions to the team to try and build confidence. UFA goalies they could investigate are Vitek Vanecek, Ville Husso, Joonas Korpisalo, and Phillipe Desrosiers. Another way the Devils can decide on how to fix the goaltending is by doing it through the draft.
The two goaltenders who are getting projected to be the best goalies in the draft are Tyler Brennan and Topias Leinonen. These goalies are looking to be around in the 3rd or 4th round. Since the Devils have at least one 3rd rounder and 4th rounder, they should use those picks to decide on either goalie. It would be nice to see Blackwood back to form again next year, but making these decisions should provide Blackwood some backup if this happens again.