Akira Schmid Should Be New Jersey Devils Starting Goalie

New Jersey Devils goaltender Akira Schmid (40): James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goaltender Akira Schmid (40): James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils have been tied to the biggest goalies on the trade and free agent market all offseason. They traded Mackenzie Blackwood to the San Jose Sharks, and they didn’t really replace him. They added Erik Källgren to help with the goaltending depth, but he’s likely going to help with the injury to Nico Daws with the Utica Comets more than anything. Vitek Vanecek is the only guaranteed NHL goalie on the roster, but if things stay the same, Akira Schmid should be the starter.

Of course, there are a few situations that could change that fact. The Devils are still tied to superstar goalies from around the league, the most prevalent is Connor Hellebuyck. Of course, if Hellebuyck, John Gibson, Jeremy Swayman, or any of the available goalies end on in New Jersey, that changes who becomes the starter. For now, none of those goalies are in Newark.

As things stand today, Schmid gives the Devils the best chance to win a Stanley Cup. He should spend the rest of the season as the starting goalie. Of course, he only played 41 regular season games between the AHL and NHL.

If Schmid really is the future, he needs to learn how to play 55-65 games in the regular season. With the playoffs, Schmid played 50 total games. That’s close to what he needs in the regular season alone. Schmid had a rough series against the Carolina Hurricanes after dominating the New York Rangers. He even shut them out in Game 7.

Did Schmid run out of gas, or were the Hurricanes just that much better? It’s hard to tell at this point, but the Devils should find out by making Schmid the starter. Vanecek earned a starting role last season, but hockey isn’t that simple. He’s been bad in the playoffs his entire career. Schmid was fantastic in the first round and struggled with the workload in the second round. He was still better than Vanecek against the Hurricanes.

To set the Devils up for success, Schmid should be the starter. He must build his stamina, and he’s already proven he can do it in the playoffs. Playing the way he did as a 22-year-old against the Devils biggest rival is an impossible task that he took on without hesitation. Schmid wasn’t just a flash in the pan. He was great in the regular season. He can prove he is the next great young goalie in the Metropolitan Division.

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At the end of the season, Schmid is the Devils’ best chance to win a title. Vanecek deserves another chance to prove himself after winning 30 games, but he can do that as the backup to start. Lindy Ruff is known as a coach who rides the hot hand. With Schmid and Vanecek in the fold, he can truly find the player who does his best for the longest stretches. Just like Blackwood was given the first chance last season, Schmid should be given the first chance this year.