NHL Rumors: NJ Devils Will Not Submit Qualifying Offer To Pending RFA

The New Jersey Devils went with youngster Akira Schmid as their main goaltender in this year's playoffs, with Vitek Vanecek as the alternate. Noticeably absent from the netminding mix was Mackenzie Blackwood. 

The pending restricted free agent was not very good once again this season, registering an .893 save percentage and a 3.20 GAA.

With a $3.36M qualifying offer due to Blackwood to retain his RFA rights, the Devils are, understandably, said to be very unlikely to make the offer, according to NHL Insider Frank Seravalli. That would render Blackwood an unrestricted free agent. Could the Devils still try to work out a trade? Perhaps, but it wouldn't fetch them much.

Blackwood is far and away the most likely player to not be issued a qualifying offer this spring. Seen as recently as two years ago as one of the promising, up-and-coming young goaltenders, Blackwood’s stock has dropped steadily by combination of injury and inconsistent play. Over the last three years, he’s appeared in 82 games with an .897 save percentage.

If he hits the free agent market, it's possible Blackwood, after several uninspiring seasons with a SV% under .900, would be relegated to a minimum deal, and maybe even have to work his way through some AHL appearances. 

For his part, Blackwood has blamed constant injuries on his disappointing performances. MCL and groin injuries stunted his ability to get his game back this past season.

"It was a tough year for me," he said after the Devils were eliminated from the playoffs. "A couple of injuries, which is obviously unfortunate. It's hard to get hurt, come back, and then get hurt again, so bad timing with that. Obviously, over the last couple of years (I faced) a lot of adversity. There were moments this year (when) my game was good, but it was too much fighting back from injury to get the ball rolling.

"I love all the guys (with the Devils) so it would be hard to leave that. But, at the end of the day, you want to go where the opportunity is."

 Photo: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports