San Jose traded with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, acquiring Blackwood and his restricted free agent rights, but could not reach an agreement with the veteran before the unrestricted signing period began on 12 p.m. ET Saturday.
But not long into the period, the Sharks, who parted with a sixth-round draft choice to land Blackwood, announced the deal for a netminder who could end up being the starter next season.
Indeed, Blackwood’s arrival gives the Sharks someone they can partner with Kaapo Kahkonen at a time when more teams throughout the NHL are turning to a tandem approach. Together, they will look to provide some improvement for a Sharks squad that finished with the worst team save percentage in the NHL in 5-on-5 play.
His last two seasons in New Jersey were a roller-coaster ride for Blackwood, 26, who finished 10-6-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage in 2022-23.
At one time seen as the netminder of the future for the rebuilding Devils, Blackwood was relegated to No. 3 on the depth chart and didn’t appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vitek Vanecek took over as the primary starter, and prospect Akira Schmid rose to prominence as his backup.
The Devils used both Vanecek and Schmid in the postseason, where they lost in Round 2 to the Carolina Hurricanes. And though goaltending still seems to be a concern for a team that is looking to win a Stanley Cup soon, Blackwood moved further and further from their plans as last season’s run progressed.
In 2021-22, when he finished 9-10-4, Blackwood’s season was abbreviated because of injury and COVID-19 concerns. He was among few NHL players reluctant to receive the vaccination, and didn’t appear in a game until Nov. 5, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Blackwood is 65-57-18 for his career.
San Jose Sharks finalize 2-year deal with Mackenzie Blackwood