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2024 Devils Hot Stove: Future of goaltending for NJ

There's no question that things need to change for the New Jersey Devils this offseason. After a highly disappointing 2023-2024 season, general manager Tom Fitzgerald needs to make some decisions. 

Besides the obvious issues the Devils need to resolve, including naming a head coach, finding (and keeping) a goaltender is a key to their success. 

The Devils cycled through five different goaltenders throughout the season. Starting with the rotation of Vitek Vanecek, Akira Schmid and Nico Daws, the trio had some stellar performances but were not consistently playing well, with all three goaltenders finishing with below a .900 save percentage. The team cycled through goalies around the clock. Daws and Schmid were sent back and forth to the Devil's affiliate team in the AHL: the Utica Comets. Vanecek's injury, combined with the coaching change, led to a trade where the Devils acquired veteran Montreal Canadian goaltender Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen from the San Jose Sharks. This signing marked the fourth and fifth goaltender the Devils signed in the 2023-2024 season. 

Many fans are wondering: now what? 

Where do the Devils go from here? There is no goaltender "core," and truthfully, it hasn't been since the duo of Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid in the 2017-2018 season. To jog your memory, that season, the Devils made it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012, Taylor Hall won the Hart Memorial Trophy, and Nico Hischer played his first season in the National Hockey League, earning 52 points in his rookie season. 

As history shows, New Jersey needs a solid starting goaltender to strengthen their team. 

The top goaltender candidates available this postseason are Nashville Predators Juuse Saros, Minnesota Wild's Filip Gustavsson, Boston Bruins Linus Ullmark, and Calgary Flames Jacob Markström. 

While Fitzgerald was close to trading for Markström towards the end of the season, rumors circulated that salary retention and Flames ownership were unhappy with the proposed deal. However, Fitzgerald is known to make some seemingly impossible trades happen, so Markström is not entirely off the table. A veteran goaltender, Markström would be an incredible asset to the young Devils team. 

Similarly, Juuse Saros is a top contender for joining the Devils. The 29-year-old goaltender is exceptional in net and can bring his expertise to New Jersey. Signing Saros would not be cheap, as he currently has an average annual value of $5 million and will likely seek a significant raise before signing his next contract. 

Other contenders include Ullmark and Gustavsson, who are both unlikely (but possible) candidates to join the Devils. Ullmark recently stated his desire to stay with the Bruins for the final year of his contract. Additionally, Ullmark has a 16-team no-trade list in his contract, so he has a large say in where he winds up next year. Gustavsson could also be an interesting choice for the Devils, but he is a young goaltender with fluctuating stats, including a save percentage of .899 last season. Fitzgerald has expressed the desire to acquire a veteran goaltender with depth and the stats to back up performances. 

The likely tandem for the Devils in the upcoming 2024-2025 season will include a new starting goaltender, with Allen as the backup. Daws and Schmid have been crucial assets to the Devils and will continue to be, but they need to develop more before assuming consistent spots in the lineup. 

Fitzgerald will have some key decisions to make this offseason. New Jersey's look will definitely be different come the fall. 


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