With their first pick of Day 2 of the draft, the Devils selected G Mackenzie Blackwood from Barrie of the OHL. It is not a surprise they took a goaltender in this draft, but do think it's a bit of a surprise it happened this early. Let's take a look at Blackwood and get to know him more.
Did We Profile Him?: No!
The Basics: Blackwood was born on December 9, 1996. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native is 6'4" and 215 lbs. Blackwood has played in 96 games for the Barrie Colts of the OHL over the past 2 seasons in which he has a 56-29-2-2 record with a 3.04 GAA, .904 SV%, and 3 shutouts. Blackwood earned OHL First All-Rookie Team honors in 2013-14. Prior to that he played for the Elmira Sugar Kings of the GOJHL in 2012-13 where he had a .911 SV% in 24 games and in 2011-12 he played his midget AAA hockey with the Thunder Bay Kings. Blackwood has been invited to Canada's U20 WJC camp this summer.
What Others Have Said About Blackwood: Craig Button of TSN compared him to Braden Holtby and gave him the projection to be a #1 goaltender. He had this to say:
Blackwood possesses a very good base of goaltending skill. His mobility and lateral agility is good and he moves well around his net in reading the play and utilizing his size to his advantage. At times he gets caught deep in the net, creating unnecessary vulnerability but is certainly an aspect that can be developed and allow him to be a very good goalie.
Ryan Wagman of Hockey Prospectus had a throughout breakdown of Blackwood's game here. This is what Wagman said of Blackwood's technique and rebound control:
Blackwood utilizes a butterfly style, which occasionally leaves him susceptible to gaps in the five-hole area when opponents enter his zone on a rush. Once he gets down, his long legs do the rest and allow him to cover the bottom portion of the net very well.
He needs some improvement in this area. Some rebounds will be kicked to the corner, but once in a while, he will kick one out to the faceoff dot instead placing too much pressure on his defence.
Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects had this on Blackwood:
A goalie who stays calm, cool, and collected in all situations, whether down by five or leading by ten. Knows his game inside and out, and never panics. With his size, it isn't a surprise that he excels in the traditional butterfly-style; plays the puck intelligently and is quick to react with both his blocker and glove hand. Swift, crisp lateral movements let him get into positions where shooters have nothing to shoot at. At the end of the day, you can never complain when you have a goalie who tries as hard, and plays as consistently, as Mackenzie Blackwood.
Greg Balloch of InGoal Magazine had plenty of insight into Blackwood's game:
He has fantastic size at 6-foot-4, and long, long legs that he uses to seal the ice very effectively. He’s still learning to play into his size a bit more, having recently grown quite a bit (as much as 3 inches in the past year, by some reports), but he’s surprisingly quick. Even though he’s capable, he doesn’t usually make a lot of flashy cross-crease saves because his positioning is solid.
Another thing that Blackwood does exceptionally well is recover to a standing position, or stay on his skates when the situation calls for it. With a frame that large, he’s an intimidating figure for shooters to come down on when he’s standing up. He’s not a typical “blocking” goaltender. He’s very smart about when he goes down into the butterfly, and it gives his positioning a sense of maturity beyond his years.
A Little Video on Blackwood: Here is a short SportsNet profile on Blackwood:
Here is a "shift by shift" video with commentary on Blackwood:
My Initial Reaction: As far as goalie prospects go, Blackwood is fairly solid. He has the size and athleticism that scouts love and is obviously rated highly within Hockey Canada. He was an above average goalie last year by way of Goals Saved Above Average (10.81 GSAA, 0.22 GSAA/60). Of course he carries the same risks as all goalie prospects and that is why I would've been a bit hesitant to draft a goaltender this early in the draft. We'll wait and see how if he pans out over the next few years.
That's my quick take on Blackwood. What's your reaction? Leave your thoughts on Blackwood and the selection in the comments. More information will be added to this post throughout the draft. Thank you for reading!