This past Tuesday, the Devils were the only team to move up in the draft lottery, going from the 5th pick to the 2nd. Devils fans can be happy about the jump. Still, outside the draft lottery, the Devils have been allergic to winning, including this year. In order to have the fifth-best odds to pick first means you lost quite a lot in the regular season, which the Devils did, 55 times.
A majority of those losses can be attributed to the Devils’ goaltending woes. They used seven goaltenders this season, a franchise record, and got serviceable goaltending from only one of them.
Jonathan Bernier: B
Coming into the season, Bernier was expected to combine with Mackenzie Blackwood to form a solid 1A/1B goaltender tandem. Instead, he appeared in just 10 games before undergoing season-ending hip surgery. In his 10 appearances, however, he put up the best numbers of any Devils goaltender, going 4-4-1 with a .902 save percentage.
Additionally, according to MoneyPuck, Bernier allowed just -1.2 goals saved above expected in his starts, which was survivable.
Bernier has one more year left on his deal, so expect to see him return to the lineup as the Devils’ backup goalie next season.
Mackenzie Blackwood: C-
The same man uttered in the same breath as Igor Shesterkin now has a clouded future with the Devils. Just two seasons ago, Blackwood and Shesterkin were supposed to run the Metropolitan division for a long time. Shesterkin has a Vezina locked up, while Blackwood has been below average.
Blackwood’s tenure with the Devils has been a bumpy one. It’s been a tumultuous ride, between the vaccination stuff, him catching COVID and his game dropping off significantly, and him playing through a heel injury.
In 25 appearances, Blackwood went 9-10-4 with a .892 save percentage, along with a negative goals saved above expected differential of -12.7.
The past two seasons have been rough for Blackwood, but before the Devils give up on the once-promising star, let the kid get the net at 100%.
Nico Daws: C
Many Devils fans weren’t happy with his load management, and I get that, but then again, should coach Lindy Ruff have run goaltender Jon Gillies out for an auto loss?
While it wasn’t fair to Daws, it wasn’t fair to Ruff because of the hand that was dealt to him.
Outside of that, the 23-year-old had shown flashes, and when he was in net, giving the Devils some sort of stability, they arguably had their best run of the season.
In his 25 appearances, the Devils went 10-11-1, and a big reason they almost went .500 was thanks to the offense going nuclear.
Daws may have posted a .893 save percentage, but he also posted the best goals saved above expected differential at -7.6.
Barring another goaltending collapse, I wouldn’t expect to see Daws for a year or two, but the potential for him to become a 1B goaltender is there.
Jon Gillies: D+
Gillies was the definition of being thrown into the fire. An AHL goaltender for most of his career was thrown into the starting position and performed as expected, poorly.
In the 14 games Gillies started, the Devils went 3-10-1 and allowed close to four goals per game. Furthermore, in just 20 appearances, he allowed -16.5 goals saved above expected and allowed one goal that shouldn’t have gone in per 60 minutes.
Akira Schmid: D-
For a chunk of the AHL season, Schmid was one of the best goaltenders in the league. He was then rewarded by being brought up to the NHL and in response, couldn’t have played any worse.
The Devils went 0-4 in the games Schmid started and allowed almost five goals per game. Schmid posted a whopping .833 save percentage and gave up -2.3 goals saved above expected per 60, which was the worst in the NHL among those who appeared in five or more games.
Scott Wedgewood: F
Wedgewood’s performance with the Devils was bad, but the situation as a whole was unfortunate and embarrassing.
In the three games, Wedgewood started, the Devils went 0-3, and he had a .880 save percentage.
Because Blackwood was returning to the lineup, the Devils opted to waive Wedgewood over anyone else on the roster. Wedgewood was picked up by Arizona, where he managed to pick on 10 wins for a terrible Coyotes team. He was then flipped for a 4th at the deadline to the Stars. There he was unconscious, posting a .913 save percentage and at one point had the third-best goals saved above expected for the month of February.
Andrew Hammond: F
Not only did the Devils trade away a solid piece for the AHL squad, but Hammond also played like a double agent.
The Devils won one of the six games Hammond started in and could have won his first game if not for a 3rd period meltdown to the Panthers. That Panthers game alone is enough to give Hammond an F for his performance in New Jersey, but his .860 save percentage and 4.66 goals against didn’t help either.