NEWARK, N.J. — At one point, Mackenzie Blackwood appeared to be the goalie of the future for the New Jersey Devils.
Drafted 42nd overall in 2015, he appeared in 47 games for the Devils in 2019-20, posting a very respectable .915 save percentage.
It's been all downhill from there, though, due to a variety of injuries and additions to the roster.
Here's how the goaltending shook out in New Jersey this season:
- Vitek Vanecek: 52 games, 33-11-4, .911 save percentage
- Mackenzie Blackwood: 22 games, 10-6-2, .893 save percentage
- Akira Schmid: 18 games, 9-5-2, .922 save percentage
Blackwood didn't see a minute of action in the playoffs. Where Vanecek struggled, Schmid was there to pick up the mantle, going 4-4 but with a .921 save percentage compared to .825 for Vanecek.
Both Schmid and Vanecek are already under contract for 2023-24. Schmid will carry a salary cap hit of $850,833 while Vanecek's cap hit is a reasonable $3.4 million.
Blackwood is a restricted free agent and is coming off a three-year, $8.4 million deal.
Locked on Devils host Trey Matthews believes Blackwood has run his course with the Devils and they won't be able to contend for the Stanley Cup with him in net because he's somewhat injury prone and hasn't been able to live up to expectations.
The Devils already appear to have moved on, seeing as Blackwood didn't get any playoff starts. If he's looking for a starting gig or even backup duties, New Jersey isn't the place for him.
As mentioned, Blackwood is a restricted free agent, meaning the Devils could be looking to trade his rights or get him signed to make it easier to make a deal.
He does have arbitration rights, so the Devils could simply decide to walk away from whatever the arbiter decides, making Blackwood an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team around the league.
Look for Blackwood to be on the move at some point this summer.