NHL Free Agents 2012: Examining Best Fits for Superstar Goalie Martin Brodeur
The prospect that long-time New Jersey Devils goalie and future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur could suit up for another team is almost unthinkable, but he appears ready to entertain the thought of doing so.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, Brodeur is likely to test free agency after hiring Pat Brisson as his agent. That doesn't mean that leaving New Jersey is a given by any means, but the fact that he is willing to listen to other offers is a bit of a surprise in its own right.
Brodeur has been with the Devils since the 1993-94 season, has won three Stanley Cups with the team and has won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender on four occasions. Brodeur turned back the clock this season as he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final, in a losing effort, at the age of 40.
Here are the top three options for Brodeur in free agency, as he chases a fourth Stanley Cup victory before his storied career comes to a close.
New Jersey Devils
Which team would be the best fit for Martin Brodeur?
Regardless of his intentions to test the market, the Devils still make the most sense for Brodeur.
He obviously has a long history with the team, and I have to believe he is very comfortable there. The fact that forward Zach Parise is likely to leave via free agency may have something to do with why Brodeur is considering the possibility of leaving, but the Devils are still a team that can contend.
The likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac will give him plenty of offensive support, while the defense is solid as well.
Also, Brodeur has the benefit of the fans' support. Even if he has a goals-against average over 3.00 next season, the fans aren't going to get on him, because of all that he has accomplished with the Devils.
In terms of money, New Jersey should have plenty if Parise walks.
The Devils are $25 million under the cap currently, and Brodeur made $5.2 million last season. He is likely in line for a slight decrease in pay, but New Jersey can give him what he wants within reason.
I do expect Brodeur to remain with the Devils, but the main team that could convince him otherwise is the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago has one of the most offensively talented teams in the league with the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and others, but goaltending was a huge problem last season and led to its first-round ouster.
Neither Corey Crawford nor Ray Emery seem capable of leading the Hawks to another Stanley Cup victory, so I expect Chicago to pursue Brodeur hard.
The Blackhawks have $11 million in cap space, and since they don't really have anyone left to sign, they could easily swing a deal for Brodeur. Emery could then be buried in the minors, and Chicago would be in business.
I'm not sure if Brodeur has more than one or two good years left in him at the most, but Chicago is a team that can win now, so that isn't an issue.
Brodeur will have to decide where he has the best chance to win, and Chicago may very well be the answer.
Perhaps the Edmonton Oilers aren't on the verge of contending for the Stanley Cup after picking first in the NHL draft for the third consecutive year, but there is no reason why they can't be a playoff team.
The Oilers have a young, but incredibly talented group of young forwards featuring Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and now Nail Yakupov. Scoring isn't likely going to be a problem for the Oilers this season, but their defense has been porous, and their goaltending has been inconsistent.
Veteran Nikolai Khabibulin just doesn't have it anymore, and I don't feel like restricted free agent Devan Dubnyk can be a starter in the league.
Edmonton has endless cap space, so money won't come into play, but it will be a matter of whether the Oilers want to go for the gusto now.
If they feel like they have a chance to make some noise this year, then Brodeur is an option. Edmonton may be a dark horse at best, but the youthful enthusiasm could be attractive to the veteran.
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