The Devils traded their 36th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to the Ottawa Senators for picks 42 and the Devils’ choice of pick 109 or the Senators’ 3rd round pick in 2016. With that 42nd overall pick, the Devils selected goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood from the Barrie Colts.
The 6’4″, 215 lb netminder posted an impressive 33-14-2 record with the Colts last season. Additionally, he also posted a 3.09 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. While those numbers are much less than meets the eye, Blackwood had a better save percentage than all other draft eligible goaltenders in the OHL. Blackwood’s numbers improved in the postseason to a 2.88 GAA and .904 SV%.
Blackwood did not start playing goaltender until age 12 when the goaltender on his team got injured and he filled in, but was a good skater and quickly caught up with the others. According to his Draft Prospect Profile on NHL.com, he compares his game to Pekka Rinne and Mike Smith. Those are two great players to compare to.
Many are displeased with the Devils’ 2nd round selection, but let me tell you why it is a good move.
Firstly, Blackwood was the top-ranked North American goaltender. He has good size so he takes up a lot of the net, and also has great athleticism. Think of a Ben Bishop if you will. His only weakness is his glove, but that will come along with time. Goaltenders with size are becoming more common in the NHL, and although it is extremely unlikely that Blackwood will kick Cory Schneider out of the starter’s spot if/when he makes it to the NHL, he could force Keith Kinkaid out of the backup slot, or take over the starter’s position from Scott Wedgewood in the AHL if his game is strong.
Secondly, if the Devils do not have much of a use for Blackwood if/when he develops into an NHL-caliber goaltender, they could always trade him for assets. It is a low-risk, high-reward pick that could definitely help the Devils in the future, especially since they have only one goaltender in the system after releasing Anthony Brodeur and Maxime Clermont.
Case in point, the Devils needed another goaltender and this was as good a year as any to draft one. Blackwood was available, and Shero made a call in the field to take him, which I think was the right call. The Devils’ goaltending situation was just as depleted as their forward situation in the system, and they made a big step in the right direction to plug that hole by drafting Blackwood. I have nothing but good feelings about this pick, and feel that there are only good things to come of it. The Devils addressed a need, and by addressing that need with the #1 North American goaltender who posted a very impressive record and numbers, we should be thankful.