From strength to weakness. Cory Schneider’s sprained MCL is reverberating throughout the entire New Jersey Devils organization. Schneider, who has been the team MVP and a Vezina Trophy candidate, will miss at least two weeks and possibly the season. With New Jersey having dropped eight its past ten decisions and fading from postseason contention, it’s highly unlikely the Devils will rush Schneider back.
Conversely, Schneider’s injury leaves the Albany Devils decimated in net. At 34-15-0-8, Albany’s been boosted by stout netminding all season. Across 40 games, Danis had posted 25 wins, a 2.28 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage, along with those six aforementioned shutouts. In the 12 games he wasn’t sidelined with injuries, Scott Wedgewood posted an impressive 1.67 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and one shutout. Plus, as the old saying goes, your goalie is your best penalty killer and the A-Devils sport a league best 87.6% penalty kill.
— Scott Wedgewood (@wedgewall) November 3, 2015
Now the A-Devils are left with rookie Ken Appleby, who through five games is 2-2-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and one shutout. Although Appleby had been stellar with the ECHL Adirondack Thunder and was superb last year with the OHL Oshawa Generals, the A-Devils are still thin in net. If you’re in the camp which says Schneider will be all but done for the regular season, that means the A-Devils must endure 15 games until New Jersey’s season is over and they get Danis back with four contests left on the AHL docket.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) February 14, 2016
So assuming Danis doesn’t come back until the conclusion of New Jersey’s season and Wedgewood is out for the season, where does Albany go for more goaltending?
Yes, the A-Devils could try to obtain another AHL goalie on loan or call up an ECHL backstop on an ATO. However, their best option is still in the organization. No, not a player, a coach. Scott Clemmensen is a goaltending development coach in the organization and not even a season removed from being an active player.
Clemmer is 38 and he has saved the Devils’ bacon before. During the 2008-09 campaign, Clemmensen filled in admirably for the injured Martin Brodeur and Kevin Weekes, playing 40 games, winning 25 and posting a 2.39 goals-against average. Down the stretch last season, Clemmensen almost carried the A-Devils into the postseason, going 7-3-1 down the stretch, with a 1.57 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.
In addition to last season, Clemmensen played parts of five seasons with the Albany River Rats, from 2001-2006.
Of course there’s the question of if Clemmensen wants to come back and if so, how quickly he can round into playing shape. Yet the familiarity is there, Clemmensen provides a veteran presence as a player/coach and he has experience carrying a team down the stretch.
Albany’s next game is Friday, at the Binghamton Senators, the first of a three-in-three weekend, which includes home tilts against the Utica Comets and Toronto Marlies. The A-Devils need another goalie and Clemmensen is the best answer.