The New Jersey Devils have re-signed goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.8 million.
Blackwood Broke out in Sophomore Season
The restricted free agent Blackwood, who played out the last year of his entry-level contract in 2019-20, was one of few bright spots for the Devils in what was a trying season.
The Devils, finished 28-29-12 for 8th in the Metropolitan Division last season. Veteran goaltender Cory Schneider’s struggles and subsequent demotion to the AHL’s Binghamton Devils last November opened the door for the sophomore Blackwood’s breakout.
The former Barrie Colt and second round (42nd overall) pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft appeared in a career-high 47 games (43 starts) and posted a 22-14-8 record, 2.77 Goals Against Average, .915 Save Percentage, and three shutouts, along with a Quality Start Percentage of .512.
Devils’ All Set in the Blue Paint with Blackwood, Crawford
“Mackenzie is going to be one of the key young, core pieces for this organization for a long time and we are excited and extremely happy to have him under contract,” Devils’ general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “He’s obviously shown that he can be a number-one goalie, and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Blackwood may not be the de-facto number-one in 2020-21 despite Fitzgerald’s words. The Devils are more likely to employ a 1A/1B goalie tandem of him and Corey Crawford, who signed a two-year deal shortly after Free Agent Frenzy began in October. Having two capable net minders will be more important than ever this season to any team’s success as the truncated season will mean fewer off days and more starts for backups.
THW’s own Andrew Forbes, after the Crawford signing, opined that the 35-year-old veteran will act as a good mentor for the 23-year-old Blackwood and will give Blackwood “that time to really find his groove in between the pipes at the NHL level.”
After failing to qualify for the postseason for the seventh time in their last eight seasons, the Devils made front changes during their offseason, hiring the experienced Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the “interim” tag from Fitzgerald’s title after Ray Shero was fired in January.
The Devils still have nearly $14.5 million of cap space left to work with, so they may not be done making moves even though the new season has nearly arrived.