Is Akira Schmid AHL bound?
According to a report from Frank Seravalli, the New Jersey Devils may prefer to let Schmido The Torpedo further develop with a starter's workload in Utica.
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With the New Jersey Devils yet to add a NHL goaltender to the roster this off-season, the expectation from many – myself included – was that Akira Schmid would enter the year in a platoon with Vitek Vanecek.
While that may still prove to be true, it doesn’t sound as if that is Tom Fitzgerald’s ideal plan.
For Schmid to be a frequent starter in the AHL, the Devils will obviously need to bring in a proven NHL netminder.
Expectations are too high for the team to go into the year with Vanecek and Erik Kallgren or Nico Daws.
Although the latter two have some NHL experience, and have shown flashes, both have save percentages below .900 at the NHL level.
Neither of them is an everyday backup capable of playing ~30 games – at least not yet – and that’s the bare minimum of what the team needs alongside Vanecek.
The Devils would need to add somebody of note – be it a high-end starter (Connor Hellebuyck), an emerging starter (Jeremy Swayman), or a proven platoon option (Logan Thompson) – in order to be comfortable leaving Schmid in the AHL.
With regards to the idea of letting Schmid marinate further in Utica, I have mixed emotions.
Why I like it
Schmid has yet to dominate at the AHL level. He posted a solid, but not earth shattering, .911 save percentage in 2021-22 and was at .905 last year prior to being recalled. Those are fine numbers but they don’t scream the need for an immediate NHL promotion.
He has only played professional hockey for two seasons and hasn’t yet been able to log 40+ games played in one league. I get the appeal to leaving him in the AHL for a full year and allowing him to do that since, in theory, that would be the plan when he joins a full-time platoon at the next level.
Schmid is also still waivers exempt, meaning the Devils can send him to Utica without dangling him in front of other teams. Obviously, he would never clear after what he accomplished last season.
If the Devils have any inkling he needs more seasoning, now is the time to get him just that.
They can freely send him down for more development and always have the ability to bring him back up if a) he dominates or; b) they find themselves in a position where he is needed.
Let’s say the Devils bite the bullet and bring in Connor Hellebuyck as a rental. They’d have one of the league’s best starters, one of the league’s best backups/platoon options (Vanecek), and one of the league’s best ‘3rd stringers’ in Schmid.
Not many teams have guys who saved 13 goals more than expected as the second option in goal, let alone the third as well. I certainly get the appeal.
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