Next Team: Winnipeg Jets
Consider this one a bonus. This should be Jonathan Bernier, but he’s likely going to retire at some point. He tried to come back from hip surgery, but a setback ended any chance of a comeback. So, we give you Mackenzie Blackwood, who will be an unrestricted free agent if the Devils deny his qualifying offer. To give Blackwood a QO, they need to commit to a $4.125 million one-year deal. There is absolutely zero chance the Devils take that kind of unnecessary risk.
Blackwood will be an unrestricted free agent, so we will treat him as such. Who is going to give Blackwood a chance? The Devils made it clear he wasn’t a part of their future when they chose to dress Akira Schmid over him in the playoffs. There were reports that the Devils would consider a Blackwood start in the Hurricanes series, but that seemed like someone’s agent trying to get a non-story out there.
Despite his struggles over the past three years, someone will give Blackwood a chance. He won’t get a lock-down starter’s job, but he should get something similar to Ilya Samsonov, who was given a chance to fight for minutes with Matt Murray in Toronto.
Doesn’t Winnipeg make sense if they are actually willing to move on from Connor Hellebuyck? The Jets would have no starting goalie (unless they get one in a Hellebuyck trade), and they can commit to the rebuild with Blackwood in net. He’s still just 26 years old and has years of experience as an NHL starter. Someone will give him a chance. What better place than Winnipeg with zero expectations?