2. What Happens In Net?
Vitek Vanecek was the goalie this team had been looking for for years. Since Cory Schneider’s hip injury ruined his Devils career, the Devils have gone through a laundry list of goalies. Over the three seasons prior to this one, the Devils used 12 different goalies. There were the famous seven goalies last season, and then there was the sprint for waiver pickups the year prior. This season, Vanecek solidified the position.
He did this despite another spate of injuries. Mackenzie Blackwood got hurt on two different occasions. Despite training in the early parts of camp, a setback to his hip recovery likely ends Jonathan Bernier’s chance at a career comeback. Akira Schmid ended up spending large parts of the season as the team’s backup, but Vanecek was always the starter.
That is, until the playoffs. The Devils turned to Schmid when Vanecek struggled against the New York Rangers. Schmid carried the Devils to a Round 1 victory but also struggled against the Hurricanes (although he was hardly the problem).
Now, the Devils are looking at either a Vanecek-Schmid combo, or they could go for one of the big fish. Connor Hellebuyck is the big fish many have mentioned, but he’s on the final year of his contract. John Gibson clearly has greatness still in him, but his time with Anaheim is really draining his superstardom. There are others, but the Devils have to decide if they want to go with the players in-house or if they want to make a splash for a star.