With the blockbuster trade at the 2013 Draft for the 9th overall pick going to the Vancouver Canucks to bring Corey Schneider to the New Jersey Devils, the future of the Devils goaltending situation became much more clear. For the goaltenders further down in the depth chart for New Jersey, it may have seemed as though there was no longer room for them or that their chances at the NHL had dropped significantly. When Brodeur and Hedberg were both resigned for two years in 2012, it seemed as though there was somewhat of a timeline set for when a young goalie would jump into the Devils' starting position. However, with Schneider in the picture, the future appears to have changed drastically for the goalies in the Devils' system. Many young goalies may have seen this as an impossible situation but Scott Wedgewood views it as a positive. Wedgewood told Rich Chere of the Star Ledger,
"Back then, you want to be as confident and as high up as you can and say, ‘I can take that right over.' Any person in that situation wants to be that guy. Now with the team getting Schneider, it, not eases pressure, but it also lets you understand what job you're looking for. You're not going to walk in and take over for Schneider.
"I don't think anybody would. But also the fact that you want to get in there and prove yourself. You want to be the guy to get that first crack at that backup job, and you don't want to lose it."
While there may be a fight for the backup role in New Jersey as soon as the 2014-2015 season, there also may be a battle for the starting role in Albany next year. Goaltender Jeff Frazee, who has been playing in Albany since 2008 has yet to be resigned by the Devils and it has been reported that he is looking for work in Europe. If Frazee does not return to the Devils, and it is looking like he will not, this gives Wedgewood the opportunity to jump into a full time role in Albany. Is he ready for the tougher competition compared to what he faced in the ECHL last season?
Last season in the ECHL, Wedgewood played in 48 of the 72 regular season games for the Trenton Titans. Of those 48 games, Wedgewood only had 20 wins, but he was in net for all but 12 wins for the team. The Titans had a rough season and had a lot of difficulty winning, but it was often noted that their lack of success was not due to Wedgewood. After his first and only shutout of the season, Anthony Coleman of The Times wrote,
"In his 41st start this season, workhorse rookie phenom goalie Scott Wedgewood landed his first shutout - mostly because it's taken this long for the Titans to possess the puck in the offensive zone and defended in front of him with any competence."
Wedgewood was the reason the Titans were kept in most games, and he did all he could to give his team the chance to win. According to Coleman, the team was often too relaxed on the ice to contend with the top teams in the league.
Outside of the ECHL, Wedgewood was given the opportunity to play a few games in the AHL when Brodeur went down with an injury and both Frazee and Kinkaid were brought to the NHL to back up Hedberg. Wedgewood appeared in five games with Albany and went 2-2-0 (he was pulled from one game) allowing 14 goals with a .886 save percentage. He had a tough time after winning his first two games, but ended his stint with a 3.47 goals against average.
While Wedgewood didn't find much success in his brief stay in Albany and he had trouble in the ECHL with the Titans, he was extremely good in the OHL - especially in the playoffs. He was given the name Scott "Money" Wedgewood due to his performance with the Plymouth Whalers.
I hope that Wedgewood gets the opportunity to play regularly in the AHL next year. He seems to perform well under pressure and having a stronger team in front of him than he did in Trenton will only help his numbers. He has a strong work ethic and played well during the Devils prospect camp earlier this summer.
Where do you want to see Scott Wedgewood playing next season? Do you expect him or Keith Kinkaid to start more games in Albany if Frazee isn't resigned? What are your expectations for Wedgewood as he develops? Feel free to discuss your thoughts on Wedgewood in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.