New Jersey Devils Top-10 prospects under 24

Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

4. MacKenzie Blackwood (22), Goalie, 2015 2nd round (42nd overall)

There were a few bright spots in an otherwise dismal 2018-19 New Jersey Devils season. One of them was the emergence of goalie MacKenzie Blackwood. The young netminder was thrown into the deep end last season because of a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness among the goalies who started the year ahead of him on the depth chart.

He was unfazed, finishing 2018-19 with a 10-10-0 record, .918 save percentage, 2.61 goals against average and a pair of shutouts. That’s pretty darn good for a rookie on the third-worst team in the league. As a matter of fact, his play was so good, the Devils traded five-year veteran Keith Kinkaid to Columbus at the February 25 trade deadline.

Drafting a goalie is a very inexact science due to the almost impossible way to predict how they will develop through the minors. That’s why a top-50 overall pick is quite high for the position. So far Blackwood has justified the New Jersey Devils faith in him at the 2015 Draft. So much so, that not only did Shero trade Kinkaid, previous to that he also declined to offer Ken Appleby a qualifying offer last summer after the latter led the Devils AHL affiliate in starts for the 2017-18 season.

Blackwood plays in the butterfly style. He has a rare combination of size (6-4, 225 pounds) quickness, and freakish athleticism. How freakish? Last season, did a story about him dunking a basketball in Denver. Aside from the physical tools, his work ethic and resiliency are to be admired. In 2017, Blackwood was so inconsistent, he got demoted from the AHL to the ECHL for five games. He took it like a man and worked his tail off to become the quality shot-stopper he is now.

Should incumbent starter Corey Schneider struggle with injury or poor play in 2019-20, the New Jersey Devils have his replacement ready to step in.