New Jersey Devils: 3 Goalies That Give Us Hope With Mackenzie Blackwood

New Jersey Devils goalie MacKenzie Blackwood (29): Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goalie MacKenzie Blackwood (29): Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils are a little worried about their goalie of the future. Mackenzie Blackwood had a really tough two years after a really promising start to his career. There are examples of players who turned things around and turned into superstars.

If only the New Jersey Devils had a goalie. That’s what fans have been saying all season, right? The Devils have been desperate for someone between the pipes to stop the puck. This season, they had seven players actually play minutes. They also had an EBUG, who at least would have been fun to get some time.

In general, the goalie situation ruined the year. Jonathan Bernier hurt his hip and needed season-ending surgery. His career isn’t exactly in jeopardy, but it’s a little bit in doubt. The Devils have dealt with major hip injuries before, and we all saw it tear down Cory Schneider‘s career, but maybe Bernier will be different.

Either way, the future of the position for the Devils lies with Mackenzie Blackwood at this juncture. Unless the Devils find a way to get a starter in free agency or on the trade market, the team’s success lies broadly on Blackwood’s shoulders.

It’s a scary place for Devils fans. He hasn’t been good even when he was on the ice. Is that because he was injured? Did the heel injury cause him to lose his confidence? What about the rumors about a fallout with the team? That could really get in the head of any player. For a goalie, they need to have supreme confidence in their game. If they don’t, it’s going to go badly 100% of the time.

However, we’ve seen this before. Goalies have been in the gutter, but they’ve pulled themselves out of it and turned into star goalies. We found three examples of current goalies who found their footing and turned into really good options.

New Jersey Devils
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Jacob Markstrom

Jacob Markstrom has had an interesting career that led to a really good contract with the Calgary Flames. He started his career with incredibly high hopes with the Florida Panthers, but he could just never get it together. He tanked in 2013-14, his last year with the Panthers. He had a .874 save percentage, and he won just one of his 12 games that season.

Then, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks as part of the Roberto Luongo trade. He spent two years finding his game again, spending a lot of time in the AHL. Then, he started to get more and more of the starting reps. His save percentage skyrocketed, and he was the full-time starter by 2017.

Do the Devils have the time to wait for Blackwood like the Canucks did with Markstrom? Not really. Markstrom didn’t show how good he was until he was 28 years old. Blackwood is 25 years old. Also, Markstrom needed to go to another team to show what he was worth. Honestly, it’s getting close to a similar situation with Blackwood.

The situation isn’t completely lost, but seeing Markstrom turn into a Vezina candidate after such a tumultuous start to his career should give us hope. Hopefully, Blackwood can also learn from it.