Early Wednesday morning, the Devils announced MacKenzie Blackwood signed a three-year Entry Level Contract with the team. The announcement follows a successful World Juniors debut and 3-2 win over Switzerland.
Blackwood, who was drafted 42nd overall in the 2015 draft, has been playing with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League this season. In Barrie, he has a Goals Against Average of 2.36 and Save Percentage of .932, good for 2nd and 1st in the league respectively. While tremendously successful on the ice, Blackwood just served an 8-game suspension for slashing an opponent in a moment of frustration.
Touted for his exceptional mobility and size, standing at 6'4", Blackwood has been a top goalie in the OHL this year and with that earned the starting job for team Canada U-20 team. Making his debut in an exhibition game against the Pavel Zacha led Czech Republic, Blackwood earned a shutout and the starting job. While he was suspended the first two games of the tournament, Blackwood made his debut against a Swiss team fighting for a spot in the quarterfinals. With 23 saves on 25 shots, he earned the win in a shootout in which he made an exceptional glove save. His debut was marked by two deflected goals in the first period which he had little hope in stopping and a fantastic save on a 2-on-1 late in the third period.
Impact on New Jersey
While it is no doubt encouraging to see such improved play from our prospects, Blackwood will remain in the CHL the rest of this season and is ultimately a couple years from making his NHL debut. While many players were available at the 42nd pick, few have had the impact of Blackwood, and while goalie prospects are notoriously difficult to predict, all signs from him are encouraging and warrant praise.
How do you see the signing of Blackwood panning out in the future? Is he a potential heir to the starting job? Have you had a chance to watch him at the U-20 tournament? If so, what do you think of his play? Let us know your thoughts and as always, thank you for reading.