5. Nico Daws
This is one player who did so much better than expected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was good based on NHL standards. Nico Daws had some really good games, but we all know why he was in the net. He was the Devils only considerable option. While the Devils were trying to survive night in and night in, the 20-year-old prospect who became a player at least kept them in some games.
The Devils tried everything they could to keep Daws from spending a long period of time in the NHL. They got Jon Gillies from the St. Louis Blues. They traded a prospect for Andrew Hammond. They rode Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood when they were clearly hurt. It came down to Daws and Akira Schmid early. Daws was clearly the better option, so he ended up getting 23 starts this past season before he was sent back to the AHL at the end of the year.
Listen, we’re not going to dance in the streets over an .893 save percentage, but at times Daws was clearly an NHL goalie. He had some disastrous performances, but more times than not he was a good enough goalie.
Daws showed he has some promise and could be the future option in net. He needs at least two years of development to get there, but he has the foundation to get there eventually. It all depends on what happens with Mackenzie Blackwood.