Goaltending have continued to strike the New Jersey Devils as general manager Tom Fitzgerald has been searching for a goaltender to pair with Mackenzie Blackwood for the last couple of seasons.
Two years ago, the sudden retirement of Corey Crawford left the team without a 1B goaltender. In that shortened 2020-21 season, the Devils had a combination of Blackwood, Scott Wedgewood, Aaron Dell, and Eric Comrie in the crease.
Jonathan Bernier was the next in line when he signed a two-year contract with the club during the 2021 offseason. A hip injury sidelined the 33-year-old after only 10 appearances. That’s where the rotating door of goaltenders began last season. Following injuries to Blackwood and Bernier, as well as Wedgewood being claimed off waivers by the Dallas Stars, goaltenders Nico Daws, Akira Schmid, Jon Gillies, and Andrew Hammond would all get their opportunity in the crease.
Bernier is under contract next season but his injury has created a cloud of uncertainty in regards to his return to form. Fitzgerald and the Devils will be in goaltending market for the third consecutive season as they look for consistency in the crease that they have not seen since pre-injury Cory Schneider.
With several goaltenders available this offseason, the Devils will have options but not everyone is a fit for the club and they should narrow their search down to a handful of names.
MANSCAPED™’s Lawn Mower 4.0 groin and body trimmer is a gift that is for both you and your partner. Their fourth generation trimmer features advanced SkinSafe™ technology and cutting-edge ceramic blades to reduce grooming accidents, a new multi-function on/off switch that can engage a travel lock, AND it is waterproof! The Performance Package 4.0. also includes the Weed Whacker™ -- this nose and ear hair trimmer feature proprietary SkinSafe Technology which helps prevent nicks, snags, and tugs in those delicate holes. Seal the deal with MANSCAPED’s top-selling formulations including the Crop Preserver® ball deodorant and Crop Reviver®ball toner. MANSCAPED even threw in two free gifts - the MANSCAPED™ Boxers and The Shed travel Bag! Join the other 2 million men who trust MANSCAPED, with this exclusive offer for you…. Get 20% off + free shipping by going to manscaped.com and use promo code: TheFHN at checkout!
There has been talk in past years that the Devils have had interest in Marc-Andre Fleury. Unfortunately for the club, talks did not progress as the three-time Stanley Cup champion had New Jersey on his no-trade list. With Fleury becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Devils can finally talk to him in an attempt to sell him on New Jersey.
Fleury started last season with the Chicago Blackhawks before being traded to the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline. In 56 starts last year, Fleury went 28-23-5 with a 2.90 GAA and .912 save percentage.
The 37-year-old would a bring a championship pedigree to the crease that the team has not seen since Martin Brodeur. This move would also bring in a veteran that could help in Blackwood’s development.
Signing Fleury would also signify a willingness to commit to Blackwood long term. Bringing in a veteran goaltender to a short-term contract would mean that the crease could be Blackwood’s at the end of the Fleury’s contract if his development gets to that point.
This move may make the most sense if the team believes Blackwood can become a bonafide number one goalie. Fleury is also the only goaltender on this list that would, most likely, not be looking for a contract with term.
Ville Husso is about to capitalize on a monstrous 2021-22 season. The 27-year-old started 38 games for the St. Louis Blues where he posted a 25-7-6 record with a 2.56 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Husso will be seeking a long-term contract in free agency, the only problem with this is the small sample size. He has only appeared in 57 games over his first two seasons and, while his first season left a lot to be desired, many are wondering if his 2021-22 campaign will become the standard for Husso.
No goalie is without his flaws and the second-year netminder had his flaws on full display in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Husso appeared in seven playoff games for the Blues and posted a 2-5 record with a 3.67 GAA and .890 save percentage.
Giving Husso term would mean the Devils believe he can be a high quality goaltender for years to come and would be the team’s number one netminder moving forward.
Darcy Kuemper achieved the ultimate goal in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche. The 32-year-old went 37-12-4 with a 2.54 GAA and .921 save percentage in the regular season before helping Colorado win their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.
With the team needing a goaltender following the departure of Phillipp Grubauer, the Avalanche made their big offseason move in acquiring Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 first-round pick, a 2024 conditional third-round pick, and defenseman Conor Timmins. Even with an above-average lineup in front of him, Kuemper proved that he could shoulder the load in high-pressure situations.
The biggest question surrounding the goaltender is whether or not the Avalanche will let him get to the open market. Kuemper will be looking for a long-term contract and has earned the right to be the undisputed starting goaltender on any roster. New Jersey will be one of several teams interested in his services come July 13.
As free agency has grown closer, the rumors surrounding New Jersey and Jack Campbell have began to heat up. There is talk that the club may not want to wait until free agency opens as they would be interested in acquiring his rights from the Toronto Maple Leafs. This would give them a window of opportunity to get a deal done before he hits the open market.
Campbell is the best fit if the Devils plan on going with a true 1A/1B goaltending system. The 30-year-old showed flashes of brilliance with the Maple Leafs. Even with his late season struggles, Campbell recorded a 31-9-6 last year with a 2.64 GAA and .914 save percentage as well as appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game.
Despite having strong numbers last season, Campbell’s play received scrutiny from the Toronto media. Being the starting goaltender of the Maple Leafs comes with a lot of outside pressure from the media, if Campbell is looking to play in less of a pressure cooker then New Jersey is the place for him.
While New Jersey is a viable destination for Campbell, the Edmonton Oilers are also seen as a frontrunner for the goaltender’s services come July 13.