The New Jersey Devils have their goalie of the future. This off-season they committed to Massachusetts-native Cory Schneider when they inked him to long-term contract. This decision came after Schneider poster sensational numbers playing around half of the team's games last year. Now, with Martin Brodeur gone and Schneider looking to fill the void, one question remains regarding the Devils netminding. Who will back-up the Devils' number one goalie.
It is not an unfamiliar issue for Jersey's team. Throughout Marty's two-decade career they went through plenty of back-up goalies. This is mainly due to the number of games Marty was able to play each season. Barring injury to Marty, a back-up in New Jersey could realistically hope to play 15 games and now that is the situation once more. The Devils are full expecting Cory to play well over sixty games and use their second goaltender sparingly.
While on one hand it is great only having to use your back-up for 15 games or so, it raises a few issues. The first is that it would be extremely difficult to bring in a quality back-up in free agency. This is the issue surrounding Marty right now. He feels he is too talented to sit for sixty-five games a year and is struggling to find anyone willing to give him what he is looking for. As a result, the Devils brought in veteran Scott Clemmensen who has spent the last five seasons with the Florida Panthers. Clemmensen was highly unimpressive in his years in Sunrise putting up a 3.09 GAA last year playing 17 games. He was unequally unimpressive in the Devils pre-season opener on Monday giving up two goals on ten shots.
The Devils other option is to give the young New Yorker, Keith Kinkaid a shot to dress for the Devils this year. This decision would also come with questions. Chief among them is the extent to which a 25 year old can develop playing 15-20 games a year in the NHL as opposed to 50 or so in the AHL. Kinkaid also did not shine in the pre-season opener surrendering two goals on 14 shots, with both goals coming only 2:30 apart.
There is no obvious choice for the back-up job and this is one of the biggest decisions facing Peter Deboer before the puck drops on October 9th. If Deboer was hoping the first pre-season game would help him towards making that decision he was disappointed. With just over two weeks until the season starts this is one of the big stories to follow in the Devils' camp.
If you were Deboer, would you use Clemmensen or Kinkaid as the back-up goalie this year? Comment your opinions.
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