The New Jersey Devils are looking to seriously improve the goaltending position this offseason. They certainly want to upgrade at least one of their goaltenders, but it’s possible Tom Fitzgerald will tackle two new goaltenders this offseason. Mackenzie Blackwood was once considered an important part of the core, but this is no longer necessarily the case today.
Let’s say the Devils have another option for the starting goaltender. They could keep Blackwood in net or sign and trade for another option this offseason. Either way, the Devils need a backup goaltender. Jonathan Bernier is recovering from a hip injury and is highly unlikely to be ready to start next season. He was pretty good to start the season before the hip injury became a serious issue. Now the Devils must decide how long they will stay with Bernier. Either way, the Devils need to find a second option in net. Fortunately, some options will be free this offseason.
1. Casey DeSmith
The Pittsburgh Penguins were so close to knocking out the New York Rangers before their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Luckily for us, the Rangers couldn’t get past the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, if the Penguins only had Casey DeSmith, it could have ended in the first round.
DeSmith stopped 51 shots in his opener against Rangers, but was injured in overtime and Louis Domingue had to take over. As a backup with the Penguins, DeSmith has big numbers. He never had a save percentage below .910 in four years as a professional. He’s passed that 30-year-old age threshold, but he doesn’t have the same wear and tear as other goalkeepers. He’s a substitute by trade and he’s just finished a season where he started 26 games and had only four bad starts (save percentage below .850).
The Devils would be lucky to have DeSmith as a backup. He still has a lot to give in the NHL. This would be especially true if the Devils want to allow Bernier to rehabilitate. Having a three-headed monster keeper in Blackwood-DeSmith-Bernier would give them several options to ensure they have a good keeper by the end of the season.