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Devils GM ‘Not Cool’ With Goaltending Situation, Will it be Addressed?

General Manager Tom Fitzgerald and Martin Brodeur speak on the state of the Devils’ goaltending and if it will be addressed.



New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald, is not okay with his current goaltending situation.

The Devils announced on Tuesday that Fitzgerald inked a multi-year extension to remain New Jersey’s GM. Additionally, they slapped the President tag to his title as well.

Fitzgerald addressed the media following the announcement. After some congratulations and an explanation of the timing of Fitzgerald’s extension, it was just a matter of time before the goaltending was addressed.

When the Devils’ GM was asked about the state of New Jersey’s crease, he didn’t sugarcoat his feelings. He’s not thrilled.

“I’m not going to say I’m cool with it,” Fitzerald explained. “I want our goalies to play better.”

However, Fitzgerald followed his feelings with the company line to ensure he didn’t place the full weight of the blame in the crease.

“But, I want our players to play better in front of (the goaltenders),” Fitzgerald continued. “We still have some areas of the game that need to be cleaned up. And that’s a daily process with players and teams. Hockey’s a game of mistakes. But if we can minimize the mistakes that turn into big chances, then we’re getting better. We’ve got some work to do.”

The fact of the matter is the Devils have been hampered by injuries all season. Fitzgerald reiterated multiple times that’s not an excuse. Yet, the Devils are currently deploying two AHL defensemen and two rookie blue-liners. Their only regulars in their last tilt were John Marino and Kevin Bahl. It’s not ideal, but neither is the Devils’ collective 30th-worst .890 SV%.

One of two things needed to happen this summer after Damon Severson and Ryan Graves signed with new teams. The Devils needed an additional veteran presence on their blue line, or the goaltending needed to be strengthened. Neither happened and now the Devils are suffering the consequences.

Vitek Vanecek’s record might look good, however, he’s collected a 16-7-2 record in spite of his insufficient play. The reality is Vanecek is the NHL’s second-worst goaltender with -13.2 goals saved above expected (GSAx), according to MoneyPuck.

Akira Schmid is now with the Utica Comets in the AHL for what Fitzgerald called a “mental reset.” His numbers in the NHL were better than Vanecek’s, but not by much. And although Nico Daws looks like a bright spot in the Devils’ crease, he lacks experience which is concerning for a team that maintains their playoff aspirations.

So, will the goaltending be addressed?

“I’m looking to improve the team,” Fitzgerald said. “And as we continue to evaluate the past, present, and where we want to go, if an opportunity arises that helps us improve our team? Absolutely. I’m all in to try and do that.”

Again, the company line.

In Fitzgerald’s defense, word is that the asking prices on the market right now are extremely inflated. However, eventually, it’ll need to be addressed. Otherwise, the Devils might need to look for alternative methods of improving the goaltending, starting with goaltending coach Dave Rogalski. Perhaps he’s not the man to mentor the Devils’ goaltenders.

“I talk to the goalie coach a lot,” Executive Vice President Martin Brodeur said. “He’s the one that’s taking the brunt of it. Obviously, that’s just a part of the game. That’s the way it goes.”

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