Looking at the Afterlife: After Martin Brodeur, What Will New Jersey Devils Do?

Doug GausepohlCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2010

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 31:  Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks on against the Los Angeles Kings at the Prudential Center on January 31, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. The Kings defeated the Devils 3-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As a Devils fan for the past 15 years, there've been three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Martin Brodeur starting in goal for the New Jersey Devils.

In fact, Brodeur in net is almost a certainty every game. Since 2000-2008 (not counting '08-09 due to injury or this incomplete season so far), Brodeur has started in 593 of 656 possible regular season games (or 90.3 percent of the time).

Another certain thing is that Brodeur certainly won't and can't play forever (although it'd sure be nice), and the Devils will one day need to move on with a roster that doesn't include No. 30. That's a weird thought.

Brodeur's contract ends after the 2011-12 season, and speculation is that could be it. He'd be 40 when the contract ends, and he will no longer be in line for a long-term contract.

Brodeur personally strikes me as the type who will retire when he's on top, rather than keep signing short-term deals (Brett Favre, anyone?) and somewhat tarnishing his legacy. It very well looks like '11-12 could be Marty's last hurrah.

The Devils will need to look in the mirror when Marty is gone, because I think he's been taken for granted sometimes, and it's going to be a weird feeling going into a season without Brodeur there. Needless to say, the goaltender who replaces him will sure have some ginormous shoes to fill. 

I think it's silly to wonder who the goalie will be because that's so far from now, and the Devils could draft or trade for someone we haven't even heard of today. One thing we do know about Marty's successor is he's going to have a tough time comparing to Brodeur.

Will Jersey's team have to change the organizational philosophy with Brodeur gone? It's been a mostly defensive system for over a decade now. It will be interesting to see if that continues when Brodeur is out. I honestly don't have a real idea of what the Devils will do. It would be interesting if the Devils were ever seen as an offensive powerhouse, something I can't remember hearing in at least 10 years.

Needless to say, the offense will be held to a much closer microscope than it is now. The Devils have had a mediocre (at best) offense in many of the current seasons, but it hasn't been brought to too much attention since the Devils still manage to win. Is that a product of the defensive system or Brodeur? Depends on your view.

It's sure hard to imagine the Devils winning games on a consistent basis scoring three goals or less with anyone other than Brodeur in net, though.

Luckily, the Devils offense has a bright future. Hopefully Travis Zajac and Zach Parise will still be around. Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson seem fast-tracked for NHL stardom. Niclas Bergfors could be an impact player if not traded. If everything holds together and pans out, it seems that the offense will indeed get better in the future.

The Devils also have promising young defensemen, some currently in the NHL (Andy Greene and Mark Fraser) along with some in the minors (Matt Corrente and Tyler Eckford).

While the goaltending position will certainly be downgraded in the next five years or so, it seems the offense and defense will both be able to be improved from within, which is very important. Will these improvements in the other facets of the game besides the goalie balance out the effect of losing Marty?

Hopefully for the Devils Legion, the answer to that question is yes.