New Jersey Devils: It's Time to Think About Martin Brodeur's Successor
While it seems likely that Brodeur will play one more season with the Devils, a plan for the future without him needs to be in place.
Johan Hedberg, who was very solid as a backup, is not the solution. He is 39 and a free agent.
The Devils have two goaltenders in their system that provide possible solutions: Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood.
Kinkaid played for the Albany Devils of the AHL last season, posting a 2.94 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. The Albany club failed to make the Calder Cup playoffs and Kinkaid often had little help.
Another factor is the late development of Kinkaid into an NHL prospect. He was not drafted but went on to have an outstanding college career at Union. This prompted the Devils to sign him as a free agent in April of 2011.
Kinkaid could find himself in the NHL next season to pair with Brodeur; however, this would be risky. Relying on Kinkaid to play a significant number of games next season might be more than he is ready to handle at this point.
Scott Wedgewood was drafted by the Devils in the third round of the 2010 draft. His stock has risen greatly since then, as he was named to the 2012 Canadian junior team.
He is also coming off a great performance in the OHL playoffs for the Plymouth Whalers.
Hockeysfuture.com has him ranked as the second-best prospect in the Devils system. While there is a good chance that Wedgewood will be the Devils starting goaltender in the future, he is still very raw and needs to develop further.
The Devils would be wise to acquire a solid veteran goalie that is capable of starting a significant number of games if needed. That is the situation they had with Johan Hedberg.
Scott Clemmensen, Martin Biron and Al Montoya all fit this description. Clemmensen stepped in for an injured Martin Brodeur during the 2008-09 season and kept the Devils on track.
A more intriguing possibility would be Josh Harding.
The 28-year-old was stuck behind Nicklas Backstrom in Minnesota, but has shown the ability to be a solid starter. He would likely get a good workload along with Brodeur, then take over starting duties the following season.
While the Devils do have two prospects in goal, Harding would be good insurance in case they do not pan out. It would also avoid having a young goalie replace a legend.
Harding is the best option if he can be obtained for a reasonable salary.
The Devils likely have a successor to Brodeur in either Kinkaid or Wedgewood; however, they need to acquire a veteran goalie that can bridge the gap for a couple of seasons.
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