The New Jersey Devils made it to the postseason last year as the second wild card team in the Eastern Conference. They were ousted in five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it was the first time since the 2011-2012 season New Jersey reached the postseason.
The Devils were hoping to take their game to another level this season and it has been nothing but a major disappointment. Their record is 11-14-7 with 29 points and New Jersey is in last place in the Metropolitan Division. They are nine points back of the New York Islanders for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The New Jersey Devils have scored 96 goals so far this season and they have given up 118 goals. New Jersey fans can blame General Manager Ray Shero all they want to for not upgrading the roster this offseason and the truth of the matter is, this team has no goaltending.
Keith Kinkaid is a good backup goalie to have. He has shown he can play in this league, but Kinkaid isn’t a full-time starter. His record is 11-9-6 with a .902 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA, along with three shutouts. If Keith Kinkaid wasn’t the number one goalie, those are good numbers to have as a number two goalie.
The reason why he must be pushed into the number one role is because of how injury prone Cory Schneider is and he also can’t stop anything his way anymore. Schneider’s record is 0-5-1 with a .852 save percentage and a 4.66 GAA.
The bad news for the New Jersey Devils is that they are struck with Schneider for the next three seasons after this one. He will be owed $6 million each season and Cory Schneider is 32 years old. He also has a no trade clause in his contract.
The Devils have no choice but to see what 22-year-old MacKenzie Blackwood could do in net. He was a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Blackwood made his NHL debut in relief in Tuesday night’s 7-2 loss at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He made eight saves on 10 attempts. MacKenzie Blackwood has a lot of potential to be very good for this team and New Jersey needs to hope he is the number one goalie of the now and the future.
Blackwood will either start on the road on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets or at home on Friday night against the Ottawa Senators. Maybe Head Coach John Hynes will start him on Thursday night and if he likes what he sees, then maybe he will go back to him for two straight games.
Hynes is not the problem with this team. They may not be playing great, but there is a longer-term plan in place for this franchise. The New Jersey Devils are still a very young team led by Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier.
Hall has scored eight goals and recorded 24 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -8. Hischier has scored eight goals and recorded 13 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -2. When Travis Zajac is fourth on the team in points with 19, it is a red alert for this franchise because they have a personnel problem and not a coaching problem.
The Edmonton Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Philadelphia Flyers all fired their coaches this season. The only team that is benefiting is the Oilers and it could benefit the Flyers later on. Firing John Hynes would only make matters worse for the New Jersey Devils and not better.
New Jersey has prospects in juniors and in the AHL that will make an impact in the immediate future. They will have a ton of cap space this offseason to sign players.
Artemi Panarin, Anders Lee, Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Jakob Silfverberg, Carl Hagelin, Erik Karlsson, Andrej Sustr, Tyler Myers, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Semyon Varlamov should be some the free agents they eye on this offseason. They should also try and trade for Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues, but the New Jersey Devils may not have what St. Louis wants.
The Devils might be struggling, but it could ultimately be good for the long run because they will be getting another draft pick if they continue to struggle. I don’t expect John Hynes to be fired anytime soon and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was the coach at the start of the 2019-2020 season. Hynes started coaching this team in the 2015-2016 season. He was brought in to work with young players.
– Glenn Kaplan, WTF Sports Intern
Edited by Scott Edwards