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Ah, the man, the myth, the legend, Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur, who holds almost every important goalie record that there is in the NHL, including wins, shutouts, minutes played, etc, is nearing the end of his long but great Devils career. Brodeur will be 39 in May and has one year remaining on his contract. He has said repeatedly that he will play next season for sure but does not know about afterwards due to the impending labor situation after next season.
Brodeur had a slow start to his 2010-11 campaign (as did the entire Devils team) but finished the year strong (also, as the entire Devils team did). In the second half, he showed that he can still play at a high level, which is certainly good news for any Devils fan going into next season.
There's no question who will be starting in goal next season. But who will be backing him up, and who will the heir to one of the best goalies of all-time be?
Johan Hedberg played exceptionally well as Brodeur's backup last season, but he is a UFA, and it's unclear as to whether he'll even play next season, much less whether he'll re-sign with New Jersey.
If Hedberg comes back, it will be a huge help to the Devils, as they saw exactly how valuable he was last season in backing up Brodeur. If the Devils are able to put together a playoff season next season and are able to rest Brodeur more often (like they did this season, although he was hurt a couple of times), it would be a huge plus going into the playoffs next year, to have a rested Brodeur.
But if Hedberg doesn't come back (which I think is the most likely scenario), the Devils will have a huge void at backup. It's anybody's guess as to who the backup would be, and I'm in no position to speculate who it would be.
As for life after Brodeur (which shockingly, could come as early as after next season), it's unclear as to who Brodeur's heir will be. Jeff Frazee, who was long considered to be Brodeur's heir, played in the AHL with the Albany Devils this past season, will be an RFA this summer. The Devils drafted two goalies in last year's draft, Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont, in the third and sixth rounds, respectively.
In more recent developments, on Monday, the Devils announced that they had signed undrafted goalie Keith Kinkaid, out of Union College. Kinkaid put up excellent numbers at Union, but who knows what he'll be competing for when he reaches Devils' training camp in September.