New Jersey Devils: Which Goalie Target Works Best?

The New Jersey Devils next agenda item is getting a goalie to take them to the next level. Who works best based on who's available?
Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages

Tom Fitzgerald is under much pressure in the goalie market right now. He knows this next move will cost him his job if he doesn’t get it right. Many quality goalies have been linked to the Devils, and a couple of them can instantly fix the goalie problem plaguing us for years. However, one big issue to the market is that the available goalies will not be cheap, so we need to find out what makes sense for the Devils financially and is good enough to fix that big piece of the puzzle at goaltender.

Linus Ullmark
Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins losing to the Florida Panthers during these playoffs has jeopardized their goalie tandem. One of Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman might be gone during the offseason. Ullmark, the former Vezina Trophy winner, had 22 wins and a save percentage of .915 this season. While they may not be close to his last year, it’s still great. Can he work out for NJ, however?

While he would work out for the Devils, there are a few underlying issues. First of all, he played under a grand defensive scheme, so it’s up to Fitzgerald to not only find the right defensive players, but it’s on Sheldon Keefe to find a defensive scheme that works just as well as Boston’s has. Then you have to consider whether it is good financially for the team. Looking at his contract, he is a UFA after the end of next season, as his AAV is $5 million, so if he does come to NJ and perform well and considering the cap for the Devils is at $19 million currently, there may be an issue trying to extend him with a big contract considering they may want to extend some players who are essential to them. While it would be nice to have him, he wouldn’t work for us financially.

Juuse Saros

If Fitzgerald wants to blow the offseason away, he must find a way to get Juuse Saros here. Saros has been one of the few goalies in the past two seasons who have been consistently good. During this season, he had a 35-24-5 record, with a .906 save percentage. While he isn’t perfect, he’s still a great goaltender to build around. He’d be an ideal candidate for the Devils, but will he be affordable enough to trade for?

Saros, at 29 years old, is another potential candidate for the Devils. His AAV is also $5 million, and he will be a UFA at the end of next season. The question is, what would be a reasonable trade package to secure his services? While the 10th overall pick in this year's draft seems like a given, would it be wise to offer another draft pick or even one of our prospects or young NHL players? This decision is in Fitzgerald's hands, but one thing is clear-we must avoid overpaying for a goalie.

Jacob Markstrom

So what happens if the Devils still want a goaltender but don’t want to try to pay for Linus Ullmark or Juuse Saros? They could go after Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom has been a target for the Devils since last season's trade deadline when they tried to get him but didn’t make an offer. Now, they’re looking to try to get him again. While not having a great beginning of the season, he did have a bounce-back season throughout the rest of the season, but in March and April, he went 3-8. Markstrom ended up having a 23-23 season with a .905 save percentage.

Unlike the other two goalies mentioned, his AAV is $6 million, and his contract is still up, as he has one more season before being a UFA. However, there is a pivotal reason why he is considered one of the goaltenders for whom the Devils may not have to give up a lot of assets: it’s a significant risk. Markstrom is 35 years old, and while he still has talent, he isn’t the goalie you try to build around unless you have a cup window, which the Devils do have.  So, while it may not be the best option they have out, it’s perhaps the cheaper option because they can save their big pieces and their cap for the future, but they need Markstrom to stay consistent if they want to win the cup.