How Should The New Jersey Devils Approach Their Goalie Issues

It's no secret that the New Jersey Devils need goaltending help. The question is what the best way to go about acquiring that help.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41)
New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Go and find a goalie to stabilize things

This is their other option when exploring the goalie market. With the cost of acquisition so high for a premier goalie, it may make more sense to bring in a pending UFA to stabilize things. A few names that may be out there are Kaapo Kahkonen of the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Lankinen of the Nashville Predators, and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Minnesota Wild.

While none of those options fix the Devils' goaltending problem, they are all the better than Vanecek or any other goalie within the organization. All the Devils really need is for a goalie to come in and be average. Heck, even slightly below average would be an improvement. Daws and Schmid have proved incapable of taking over the net this season, and Vanecek is statistically one of the worst goalies.

If Fitzgerald can go out and get one of those goalies (or one that fits that criteria) for a mid-round pick and a B-level prospect, it still leaves him armed with plenty of ammunition to go big-game hunting in the summer. A stabilizer goalie is the organization's best chance at trying to give the team a push in the last stretch of the season while not paying through the nose for a premier goalie in-season.

The idea is low risk, high reward. In the best-case scenario, they bring in a goalie who stabilizes things, and they make a push for the postseason. If all goes well, Fitzgerald could even look at extending that goalie to be a quality backup for next year. In the worst-case scenario, that goalie comes in, falls flat on their face, puts up Vanecek-like numbers, and stays on the same trajectory that they're on now. If it fails, they could at least say they tried something and gave up minimal assets to do so.

So what's the right answer?

The cop-out answer is it's up to Fitzgerald. If he strongly identifies that Markstrom or whoever is THE guy, then you make the move. However, he could feel that the age and contract of some of these goalies may not be worth the price, in which case he may pivot to the stabilizer goalie.

Fitzgerald has made the big splash by signing Dougie Hamilton and the big splash trade for Timo Meier. It's fair to say he may only have enough assets (trade chips and cap space) for one last big acquisition, likely a goalie. A lot of his legacy as Devils general manager may come down to if he finds a Stanley Cup-winning caliber goalie. Is that big of a move something he's ready to do in-season is the million-dollar question.

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