Is he staying or going?
The rumor mill has been running rampant all day concerning the next possible destination of longtime New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has been the subject of trade rumors since the Devils acquired netminder Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark.
Preliminary reports Tuesday at NJ.com stated that the Devils were looking to make a deal with the Minnesota Wild, who play in the same state where Brodeur’s twin sons are currently attending scholastic hockey powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Then, it was speculated that the Wild were targeting Jaroslav Halak of the Buffalo Sabres, who was recently acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Ryan Miller. Finally, it was reported at CBS Sports that Ilya Bryzgalov was to be joining Minnesota from the Edmonton Oilers, which turned out to be true.
While many Devils fans breathed sigh of relief, NJ.com revealed that Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello raged about unfounded rumors of Brodeur leaving New Jersey, the only home he has known in his storied NHL career. Coach Peter DeBoer even tabbed Brodeur as his starting netminder tonight for a key Eastern Conference contest against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center.
The NHL trading deadline is tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST. Brodeur may be in his final 24 hours in Devils' red and black—or he might be settling in for another playoff run in his usual spot, as New Jersey tries to avoid looking in from the outside of the Stanley Cup postseason picture for the third time in four seasons.
Tonight still could very well be Brodeur’s swan song in the Garden State. He played his first game in weeks in Saturday’s 6-1 win on Long Island, and there was speculation that tonight against Detroit was a sort of going-away present for the future Hall of Famer.
Fellow goaltending legend Patrick Roy also played his final game for the Montreal Canadiens against Detroit, in 1995 at the old Forum, but that was under much different circumstances, as recalled by FOX Sports Canada. Roy vowed to never play for Montreal again after being embarrassed in net that night before being sent to Colorado, where he won two more Stanley Cups.
Brodeur, a Montreal native who doesn’t have a contract for next season, and who would have to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt elsewhere, has been at least open to the possibility of moving on. As for the Habs, CBC Sports said that they placed Carey Price on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 26. So, might they be seeking a native son for insurance purposes if something has once again gone wrong with Price, who was injured while winning gold at the Sochi Olympics?
If a deal with anyone was already in the works, odds are Brodeur wouldn’t be playing tonight, so as not to risk injury for his new club. Thing is—seeing as how Schneider has started the bulk of the Devils’ games in the new calendar year—if Brodeur is dealt elsewhere, would he simply be trading one backup situation for another? Would he just be sitting on the bench again in a different-colored jersey and ball cap?
Also, if Brodeur (14-11-4 in 29 games this season) was going to be a starter somewhere else, how likely would it be that he is shipped off to a playoff contender with a real chance of getting him his fourth Cup ring? St. Louis just got Miller, and other front-runners like Anaheim, Chicago, and San Jose seem set in net. Brodeur almost undoubtedly wouldn’t go to an Eastern Conference club like Pittsburgh or Boston, who not only have clear No. 1 netminders, but with whom he could help hurt the Devils down the road.
If the Devils do deal Brodeur, what would they be getting in return? And if they do let him go, who comes up from Albany to back up Schneider as New Jersey is fighting for its playoff life?
Brodeur has been with the Devils so long it’s hard to imagine him wearing another uniform (other than Team Canada’s). Though there could be someone out there that may feel he could help, the best move for No. 30 might just be to stay put, especially if Schneider goes down with an injury. His experience is invaluable, even if he’s slowed down a bit, and it was just two years ago that he helped the Devils to the finals. He’s been more brittle the last several years as well, and seen more shelf time with injuries—but hey, we all get old.
Despite his best years being behind him, Brodeur could still help out any team in the league. His best bet right now might be to just keep helping the team he’s helped out since he made his pro debut in 1992, but that’s up to him and Lamoriello.
Is he staying or going? By this time tomorrow, we’ll know for sure.
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