The 2016-17 season couldn’t have been easy for anyone on the New Jersey Devils, but especially not goaltender Cory Schneider.
After three well-above average seasons for the Metropolitan Division club – during which they failed to make the playoffs by virtue of lack of scoring – Schneider saw his own numbers fall back down to earth this past year, posting a disappointing .908 save percentage in all situations.
Unsurprisingly, the team still didn’t see the postseason, without their star goaltender putting up elite numbers.
The Devils were aggressive in their offseason changes, though. The club held on to the first overall pick at the draft, picking up Nico Hischier as a promising future star forward, and they sent draft picks to the Washington Capitals in a cap dump for strong centreman Marcus Johansson.
They also bought out veteran Mike Cammalleri and struggling forward Devante Smith-Pelly, added productive veteran Brian Boyle, and hired Schneider’s former coach Rollie Melanson from the Vancouver Canucks.
For the star goaltender, all these moves add up to something good. Per Mike Morreale of NHL.com:
“Management preaches to us what they’re looking for and we have faith that they’re going to target guys who can do that and when you have the first pick you can choose anyone you want and they obviously identified [Hischier] as the guy that fits the bill,” Schneider said during a visit to Devils development camp at the Barnabas Health Hockey House on Wednesday. “It’s tough as an 18-year-old with that kind of pressure as the first pick, but we’re going to welcome him and if he makes the team out of camp, try to ease him into it.
“Hopefully we can let him be the player he is because by all accounts he’s an incredible talent.”
As for the new moves?
“They have a very specific type player they’re looking for and they’ve done a great job trying to acquire them,” Schneider said. “If you look at our lineup compared to 2-to-3 years ago, just from a youth, speed and skill standpoint, it’s much different.”
That includes the moves from this year, but also takes into account names like Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall, who have come on board and hope to kick-start the team’s offense in the coming years.
Although there’s still plenty of work left to do, Schneider seems optimistic. Maybe, the fanbase is too.