Akira Schmid Gives New Jersey Devils Amazing Stability In Net

New Jersey Devils goalie Akira Schmid (40): Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goalie Akira Schmid (40): Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports /

Akira Schmid is one of the biggest surprises of the New Jersey Devils season. He brought his Swiss Guard to the Garden State as an injury replacement for Mackenzie Blackwood. Schmid was forced to gain extra experience when he was sent down to the Utica Comets. That’s not a knock on the farm club, but it’s a major compliment to the Comets battle testing and improving his game to flourish in the NHL.

Schmid played in just six games last season. He was terrible in those games. He had a -8.40 goals saved above average, according to Natural Stat Trick. Only Carter Hutton had a worse number with fewer games played.

Schmid has rebounded very well, nearly doubling his xGA% rate. It is something that everyone from Tom Fitzgerald to Martin Brodeur, Scott Clemmensen, and Dave Rogalski has found a way to improve Schmid’s overall game. If Blackwood has a bad stretch of games before the 2023 playoff run, don’t be surprised to see Schmid called back up.

If Schmid can split more games with Vitek Vanecek next season, they can do some damage similar to what Colorado’s Pavel Francouz and Darcy Kuemper did on the way to the Stanley Cup last season. Schmid has a really bright career in front of him. There are a lot of positives out of his game this season, and it is a blend of eye test and analytics. He has been much calmer in net, he’s more confident in his game, and he relies on his technique and athletics to come up big making Spider-man-like saves. Schmid has made a giant step forward in the next chapter of his life as an NHL goalie to become a phenomenal elite-level starter.

Speaking of flourishing at the NHL level, Akira Schmid has allowed only 32 goals versus 38.2 expected goals. That equals 6.2 at Goals Saved Above Expected for 20th overall in that category. In Goals Saved Above Expected Per 60, Schmid is 7th overall with 0.434%. Schmid has played like a top-10 goalie at times this season. He is only going to grow into a very successful netminder.

This blueprint could become a strategy the Devils implement going forward where the workload is a lot less burdensome. Playing in this era, teams need two goalies to survive. Nobody wants to play 70-plus games like Martin Brodeur used to. It’s a different NHL, and the Devils have a good one-two punch in Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid.

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A season ago, the New Jersey Devils had a carousel of seven goalies. With the patience of Schmid’s development and play between Utica and New Jersey, the Devils have three solid goalies in the rotation going forward. Schmid, Vanecek, and Nico Daws allow the Devils to really develop its goalie rotation. This kind of depth allows Tyler Brennan, Cole Brady, and Jakub Malek to develop with a long window.