The New Jersey Devils have some serious decisions to make. One that falls under the radar is what to do with former starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.
The New Jersey Devils went into the postseason with a goalie tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid. It was a surprise move by Lindy Ruff, but it was clearly the right one. Because of his addition of Schmid to the roster, the Devils beat the New York Rangers in the first round. Not only was it the Devils first series win in over 10 years, but they did it against their cross-river rivals.
The man left on the outside looking in was Mackenzie Blackwood. There’s a good reason for that. Blackwood was bad this season. He finished the campaign with a .893 save percentage in just 22 total games played. He recorded zero shutouts in a season for the first time in his career.
There were very few games that showed the best out of Blackwood. Even when he had those great performances, he came right back with a terrible one. He stopped 38 shots and only allowed two goals against the Boston Bruins in early April. The very next game, he allowed four goals on all shots against the Washington Capitals. That seemed to be the MO. The second Blackwood gave Devils fans any hope, and he took it away seemingly moments later.
There’s no world where Devils fans will deal with this in 2023-24. Blackwood and the Devils are going to go their separate ways. Nothing can repair their relationship at this point. So, Blackwood will play for another team next season.
Here’s where it gets weird. The Devils still own his rights. He is technically a restricted free agent. The Devils would have to extend a qualifying offer to Blackwood to keep him. That seems like a no brainer without knowing the context of that QO. If Blackwood accepts the offer and decides to play on that, the Devils owe Blackwood $4.125 million.
That’s obviously not something the Devils want to deal with. Is that something any team wants to deal with? It seems like that specifically will end any deal. No team is going to pay a below .900 goalie more than $4 million per season. The Devils will let him go for nothing, and then another team will give him a minimum deal that likely comes with an AHL component.