Newark, NJ – According to a report by Pierre LeBrun, the New Jersey Devils have entered the Connor Hellebuyck sweepstakes.
The good news didn’t end there. LeBrun states that the Devils are one of the teams that have contacted the Winnipeg Jets that the 30-year-old goaltender is willing to sign an extension with.
However, New Jersey, as well as other teams, are willing to sign Hellebuyck to an extension, however, are uncomfortable paying him Andrei Vasilevskiy-type money. According to LeBrun, Hellebuyck is asking for about a $9.5 million AAV.
LeBrun adds he believes that if Hellebuyck wants to go to New Jersey, he’d have to come down from his $9.5 million ask.
Mackenzie Blackwood is on the trade block. His future in New Jersey appears over. Yet, at his exit interview, Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald defended his goaltending. He believes Vitek Vanecek had a strong season and says he saw a future in Akira Schmid.
“I was actually really happy with our goaltending the season,” Fitzgerald explained. “Playoffs are a different beast as you guys know. Hey, you take away some power-play goals from the Rangers early. We don’t know what that looks like. But we couldn’t kill the penalties. That’s what happened.”
Vanecek was fantastic in the regular season. He accrued 33 wins in 52 games with a 2.45 GAA and .911 SV%. Although a smaller sample size, Schmid tallied nine wins with a 2.13 GAA and .922 SV%. The 23-year-old goaltender was certainly impressive, as was Vanecek. But, what did both netminders in was the playoffs. Schmid certainly has time to improve. As for Vanecek, what you see is what you get going into his age-28 season.
As for Hellebuyck, he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist. Add the fact that he previously won the award in the 2019-20 season and is a two-time All-Star, you could see what the Devils are looking to buy.
Hellebuyck had a fantastic 2022-23. He won 37 games in 64 starts, posting a .920 SV% and 2.49 GAA. He also ranked fourth overall in the NHL with 30.8 goals saved above expected. There’s little question as to what the Devils are buying in Hellebuyck. He’s an elite goaltender and perhaps, the final piece to the puzzle. For now, the Devils are just in the Hellebuyck conversation. We’ll see where this ends up.
*This is a developing story