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Why did the Devils Loan Goaltender Akira Schmid to AHL Utica?

Akira Schmid finds himself the odd-man out as the Devils search for stronger goaltending.

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New Jersey Devils

Newark — The NHL roster freeze lifted this morning at midnight, therefore, teams could begin to make transactions again. Yesterday, the New Jersey Devils recalled goaltender Nico Daws. It was an emergency recall and as a result, an exception was made with the roster freeze still active. Daws’ recall has since been upgraded to a regular recall. In a corresponding move, New Jersey loaned Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid to the AHL Utica Comets.

When Devils head coach Lindy Ruff opted to dress Daws over Schmid as Vanecek’s backup in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime thriller, you could begin to see Schmid’s loan to Utica beginning to unravel.

The 23-year-old Swiss goaltender has been struggling lately. Over Schmid’s last five starts, he’s accrued a 2-2-0 record with a 3.22 GAA and .897SV%.

So what does Ruff want to see out of Schmid with the Comets?

“Just go play,” Ruff explained on Thursday. “Go play more games, get in a rhythm, get playing. We think a lot of Akira, we know what he’s done for us. We haven’t played as well as we’ve needed to play in front of our goalies, although our goalies can give us more saves at times. But we haven’t been as good a team in front of our goaltenders either. So, it’s kind of a two-way street.”

It’s no secret that goaltending has been one of, if not the weakest position in New Jersey this season. The defense hasn’t been great either, however, sometimes you need your goaltender to bail you out a time or two. The Devils haven’t received many of those saves this season with Schmid sporting a -3.9 goals saved above expected per MoneyPuck. Vanecek’s isn’t much better at -9.7 goals saved above expected.

However, a closer look at Vanecek’s last five games shows he’s been stronger lately with a 3-1-1 record with a .904 SV% and 2.58 GAA. Plus, Schmid’s waiver exemption allows him to go play in the AHL in order to work on his game.

As for Daws, Ruff explained Wednesday morning that they’ve liked what the German goaltender has provided in the AHL and are giving him a chance against NHL shooters.

“Just the fact that he’s played well (in the AHL),” Ruff concluded. “He’s one of our three goalies that we think highly of. The fact that he’s stepped back in and has played well, we let him come up here and feel out some NHL shooters.”

In three games for the Comets, Daws’ numbers are strong at a 2.39 GAA and .929 SV%.

Ruff wouldn’t confirm which of the two games this weekend Daws would start in. In fact, he didn’t indicate if he would play at all. Regardless, it’s probably safe to say he’ll get at least one start in Friday or Saturday’s contest against the Senators or Bruins. Although he did disclose what he wants to see when he does dress, again, likely one fo the two games this weekend.

“We’ve seen what he’s brought when he’s been here before,” Ruff said of Daws. “When he plays, (we want) a solid effort out of him.”

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