Goaltending is voodoo, so the saying goes. Longtime fans of hockey might remember such names as Jim Carey, Blaine Lacher and Andrew Hammond as all were touted as the next great thing in net early in their careers until shortly thereafter, they weren’t. Jim Carey even won a Vezina in 1996 and was named to the 1st All-Star team. Then, he was out of the NHL a few years later. I remember watching a game in Boston in 1995, where fans told me that Blaine Lacher was going to be the next Martin Brodeur. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t. Andrew Hammond earned the named the Hamburglar after putting up a sparkling 1.79 GAA and .941 SV% in 24 games during his rookie season in 2014-15. Hammond is now playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, where he has suited up for a total of 2 games. Neither of which have gone well for the once-promising netminder.
This exercise is not to knock these men. They all achieved what most people will only dream. The purpose is to demonstrate that long-term success in net is brutally difficult to predict. This is something Devils fans should be all too familiar with.
Last season, culminating in almost-single-handedly willing the Devils to defeat Our Hated Rivals in the first round of the NHL playoffs, Akira Schmid looked to be that next great thing. While it is certainly too early to write-off the 23-year-old, Schmid has struggled this season in both the NHL and the AHL. Hopefully, he will turn it around or perhaps an injury is nagging him? We likely will not know until the off-season. Regardless of the reason for the drastic down turn, when one falters, it gives opportunity for another to rise. That goalie for the Comets this season, who may just be the next great thing, has been Isaac Poulter.
Who is Isaac Poulter?
Per Elite Prospects, Isaac Poulter is a 6’2 goaltender from Winnipeg, who played for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. His first three seasons were unspectacular and as such Isaac Poulter was never drafted. However, something clicked for Poulter during his final season for Swift Current in 2022 and the netminder’s SV% rose to .911 from a previous career high of .896. As luck would have it, that would be the season, the Devils scouted a teammate of Poulter’s, a lanky forward named Josh Filmon. That summer, Filmon would be drafted by the Devils in the 6th round and management apparently liked enough of what they saw in Isaac Poulter to offer him a two-way AHL contract with the Devils ECHL affiliate, the Adirondack Thunder.
Last season, Poulter would earn most of his starts for the Thunder, finishing with a respectable 10-8-2 record, 2;93 GAA and .910 SV%. His first foray into the AHL last season during Akira Schmid’s call-up to the NHL, did not go as well. Poulter struggled with a 3.62 GAA and a .883 SV%, but managed a respectable 7-3-3 record on a high-scoring Utica team.
This season, Poulter has took a big leap in his development. Much like the Devils, the Comets have struggled in net this season with neither Erik Kallgren (1-5-2, 4.21 GAA, .853 SV%) nor Akira Schmid (3-5-4, 3.58 GAA, .885 SV%) able to put up a consistent effort in net.
The exception has been Isaac Poulter, whose 14-5-1 record, 2.54 GAA, .913 SV% and three shutouts has kept the Comets season alive, albeit by a string. All three of these stats (wins, GAA and SV%) are in the top 15 for all AHL goaltenders, an impressive feat for a goalie playing his first full season at that level.
Why is Isaac Poulter not in the NHL?
For starters, Poulter would need to be offered a NHL contract first. His current contract expires at the end of this season and is a AHL deal with a two-way clause for the ECHL. This contract situation could be easily rectified, of course. Winger Samuel Laberge was on a similar contract at the start of this season and signed a two-way NHL contract in order for the Devils to call him up for a cup of coffee at the height of the team’s injury woes.
Why this has not happened for Poulter yet is anyone’s guess. There have been some posts on Twitter (now X) that claim that Tom Fitzgerald signed Poulter to a NHL on Friday, but as of Monday morning I have not seen any confirmation from a trusted source, nor have I seen confirmation on the Devils website or on Cap Friendly. So for now, I have to dismiss these posts as premature rumblings or wishful thinking. If I learn otherwise, I will update this post.
A Conclusion of Sorts
Isaac Poulter has done enough to earn a two-way NHL contract in this writer’s humble opinion. Goaltending depth is always important, but especially when a team has struggled this season in net. I do not know whether Poulter will be the next big thing or even a thing at all at the NHL level, but the improvement and competence he has shown in the AHL this season is something that should be rewarded. Hopefully, Poulter gets a new contract sooner rather than later.
Around the Pool
- Comets defenseman Topias Vilen has moved up to the top pair alongside veteran Robbie Russo, an impressive feat for the 20-year-old, who spent time playing for the Adirondack Thunder earlier this year.
- Look who is on top.
- Stick tap to Cam Squires for the charity work.
This afternoon, Eagles players Cam Squires, Tomas Lavoie, Emile Ricard and Tomas Cibulka helped team special education instructor Elie Blondin and wife Diane clean out their driveway before being welcomed in for a warm home cooked meal!
— Cape Breton Eagles (@CBEHockey) February 5, 2024
I decided to write a full article on Poulter rather than the usual update as I believe it is an important topic that has not received a lot of discussion, especially with reports of Tom Fitzgerald shopping around for a new goalie.
Hotel owners in N.J. reminded to make sure housekeepers have panic devices
Under the law, hotel employers must supply, pay for and maintain panic devices, which can alert hotel managers or security guards. Some of the devices will set off a siren when activated.
The panic device law also requires hotels to keep a record of the accusations it receives and maintain the name of the accused guest on a list for five years from the date of the incident. The law also specifies any suspected misconduct or criminal activity must be reported to law enforcement.
In addition, the law prohibits employers from punishing any employee who activates a panic device, and the employer must notify other employees of the presence and location of any accused guests and allow them to opt out of servicing such locations.
The law stipulates the hotel, motel or inn must also immediately reassign the hotel employee who activated the panic device to a different work area away from the accused guest’s room for the duration of their stay.
Hotels that violate the law can be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for subsequent violations.
“The hospitality, entertainment, travel tourism industry is huge in New Jersey, it employs thousands of hotel workers,” Asaro-Angelo said. “Because this industry is so vital to our state it’s even more vital we protect the workers who work here.”
He noted the device can be worn on a chain around the neck, or it may be a type of two-way radio that can be carried in a pocket.
There are currently about 350 hotels, motels, inns and guest houses that have 100 or more rooms in New Jersey.
Some big brand hotel chains, including Marriott and Hilton, have distributed panic devices across the nation to all their employees who work alone in guest rooms.
According to a Labor Department spokesperson, the agency is focused on panic device law awareness and education, and has not issued any fines or penalties yet.
Essex County Homeowners Pay Highest Property Taxes In New Jersey
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Which towns and cities in Essex County are the hardest-hit when it comes to property taxes? It depends how you look at it, the latest data shows.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs recently released the 2023 property tax tables for each town and city in the state. On average, New Jersey property owners paid $9,803 in property taxes on a home valued at $365,661 – about $300 more than the previous year. Read More: NJ Property Taxes Hit A New High
Property taxes are always a hot-button issue in Essex County, which routinely ranks as one of the most-heavily taxed in the nation.
In total, the average Essex County property owner paid $13,448 in taxes on a home valued at $428,538 last year – the highest in New Jersey. Out of the 15 towns with the highest average taxes, five are located in Essex County: Millburn, Glen Ridge, Montclair, South Orange and Essex Fells.
Here are the latest tallies, ranked by highest taxes (totals don’t include credits and deductions):
- Millburn – $24,947 average tax bill on a home valued at $1,275,642
- Glen Ridge – $22,605 average tax bill on a home valued at $670,102
- Montclair – $21,415 average tax bill on a home valued at $633,605
- South Orange – $21,287 average tax bill on a home valued at $585,351
- Essex Fells – $20,335 average tax bill on a home valued at $937,969
- Maplewood – $18,266 average tax bill on a home valued at $505,213
- North Caldwell – $17,593 average tax bill on a home valued at $794,090
- Livingston – $16,888 average tax bill on a home valued at $712,139
- West Orange – $15,475 average tax bill on a home valued at $336,591
- Verona – $13,258 average tax bill on a home valued at $433,026
- Caldwell – $13,197 average tax bill on a home valued at $425,488
- Nutley – $12,650 average tax bill on a home valued at $491,074
- West Caldwell – $12,068 average tax bill on a home valued at $446,864
- Cedar Grove – $12,022 average tax bill on a home valued at $475,225
- Orange – $11,762 average tax bill on a home valued at $315,612
- Bloomfield – $11,561 average tax bill on a home valued at $353,851
- Belleville – $10,909 average tax bill on a home valued at $278,760
- Roseland – $10,887 average tax bill on a home valued at $470,368
- Fairfield – $10,862 average tax bill on a home valued at $529,188
- East Orange – $10,205 average tax bill on a home valued at $322,128
- Irvington – $9,013 average tax bill on a home valued at $148,422
- Newark – $7,069 average tax bill on a home valued at $189,640
It’s worth noting that some experts have pointed out that a high tax bill doesn’t necessarily mean a homeowner is getting ripped off – it depends on what you get for the money.
“While no taxpayers in high-tax jurisdictions will be celebrating their yearly payments, it’s worth noting that property taxes are largely rooted in the ‘benefit principle’ of government finance – the people paying the bills are most often the ones benefiting from the services,” researchers from The Tax Foundation recently wrote.
A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT: EFFECTIVE TAX RATES
It’s easy to make comparisons between municipalities based on their average tax bills. But if you take a look at a town’s “effective tax rate” – the amount of property tax paid relative to a home’s value – a much different story emerges.
Many of the wealthier towns in Essex County often pay a significantly lower effective tax rate, a trend that some local pundits have called attention to in the past. Read More: Tax Gap In Essex County; Many Wealthier Towns Pay Lower Rates
The tax gap continued in Essex County during 2023, according to the latest state data.
Millburn, the highest-taxed town in the county (and one of its richest, according to U.S. Census data), also had its lowest effective tax rate. Millburn has a tax base of $9.87 billion, which is second only to Newark ($12.71 billion) – despite having only about 7 percent of the city’s population.
Here are how the towns and cities in Essex County stacked up last year, as measured by their calendar year tax rates per $100 valuation (highest to lowest):
- Irvington – 6.072
- West Orange – 4.598
- Belleville – 3.913
- Newark – 3.727
- Orange – 3.727
- South Orange – 3.637
- Maplewood – 3.615
- Montclair – 3.380
- Glen Ridge – 3.373
- Bloomfield – 3.267
- East Orange – 3.168
- Caldwell – 3.102
- Verona – 3.062
- West Caldwell – 2.701
- Nutley – 2.576
- Cedar Grove – 2.530
- Livingston – 2.371
- Roseland – 2.315
- North Caldwell – 2.216
- Essex Fells – 2.168
- Fairfield – 2.053
- Millburn – 1.956
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The reasons why N.J. home sales plummeted 22% last year
Low inventory and the highest interest rates in two decades caused home sales to decline 22% in New Jersey in 2023, according to data from New Jersey Realtors.
That follows a 20% decline in home sales in 2022, according to data from the Otteau Group.
Closed sales for all market segments totaled 84,305 in New Jersey in 2023, a 22% percent decline from 2022.
The townhouse and condo market segment saw the biggest decline in closed sales, dropping 24% in 2023 compared with 2022. The 19,175 closed sales in 2023 represented a 6,063 decline from 25,238 in closed sales in 2022, according to New Jersey Realtors.
There were 23.2% fewer single family home closed sales in 2023, and the market of housing for people 55 and older had 6.2% fewer closed sales.
“It has nothing to do with people not buying,” said Gloria Monks, president of New Jersey Realtors and a broker associate with Compass in Princeton. “There’s no inventory. When we get good inventory, it does sell.”
New listings in New Jersey were down 20% in 2023 compared to 2022. There were 107,517 new listings in 2023, down from 134,643 in 2022. Of those new listings, the majority, 71,701, were single family homes, according to New Jersey Realtors’ data.
Unsold inventory in New Jersey fell to 10,500 homes on the market as of January, compared to 12,900 a year ago, according to data from the Otteau Group.
Homeowners don’t want to sell existing property they may have a mortgage on when rates for a new 30-year mortgages are now more than 7%, as many who purchased a property before mortgage rates increased have a note with an interest rate below 4%.
“After rates start to move closer to 5.5%, or get below 5.5%, we’re going to see existing homeowners more willing to put their houses up for sale,” said Jeffrey Otteau, a real estate economist who heads the Otteau Group.
New Jersey should see an increase in the number of houses on the market by Memorial Day or the second quarter of 2024, he said, if interest rates fall, as expected.
But the 2024 market is off to a slow start. In Randolph, in Morris County, prior to 2020, inventory was about 130 homes for sale at this time of year. In the spring market, inventory would rise to about 160, according to Missy Iemmello, a broker sales associate and Weichert Realtors’ branch vice president, whose agents work in Morris, Sussex, Warren, Bergen and Essex counties.
There are currently 13 active listings in Randolph.
“This is the lowest I have seen in my career, since 2006,” Iemmello said. “I believe we are at the bottom and will start growing inventory, but I think it will be a slow uphill climb.”
The decline in sales is having an impact on the real estate profession.
“There are a lot of agents making decisions about whether to keep their license active or go into a referral service,” said Beth Kimmick of ERA Central Realty in Cream Ridge. With a referral service, they can’t actively sell but they can refer clients to other agents who will then pay them a small commission.
“It’s expensive to have a license and if you’re not doing business, it can be the world’s most expensive hobby,” she said.
Are you an agent, buyer or seller who is active in this changing market? Do you have tips about New Jersey’s real estate market? Unusual listings? Let us know.
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Allison Pries may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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