10 Goalies the New Jersey Devils Should Look at to Replace Martin Brodeur
New Jersey Devils goaltender, NHL record holder and future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur is in the final year of his contract. If this is indeed his final season in a Devils uniform, who will help fill the void he leaves behind in New Jersey's net?
Here's a look at 10 other netminders that may be counted on to do the job.
1. Jeff Frazee
The former University of Minnesota backstop has yet to see action in an NHL regular-season game, but is in his fifth season in the Devils' system in the American Hockey League. He won 28 games in his first pro season with Lowell (AHL), although he has struggled a bit the past two years on weak teams in Lowell and Albany.
The big question is, even with all his time spent with their top minor league affiliate, will the Devils ever give Frazee a legitimate shot at a regular spot with the parent club?
2. Keith Kinkaid
Kinkaid, who last year led Union College to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Hockey Tournament, dressed as a backup to Johan Hedberg in October when Brodeur was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Last season the Farmingville, NY native went 25-10-3 with the Dutchmen, and bypassed his final two years of college to sign with New Jersey. Kinkaid, 22, has been splitting time so far this year with Frazee in Albany (AHL), and had gone 4-3-0 with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in his first seven professional appearances.
Though Frazee has four years experience in the pro ranks, the 6'3" Kinkaid is three inches taller and two years younger than his counterpart. He may also be considered more of an heir apparent to Brodeur in the Devils' system, if he adapts to the pro game quickly.
3. Ty Conklin
Conklin isn't Detroit's goalie of the future, even with more than 200 games of NHL experience. At 35, he's also closer to the end of his career than to the beginning.
Being an unrestricted free agent in 2012, though, could make the Anchorage native more attractive to a team with older goaltenders like the Devils.
4. Evgeni Nabokov
Despite the fact that he'll be 36 next year and is currently under contract to the Islanders, Nabokov might be a stopgap solution for the Devils if Brodeur doesn't come back.
He originally didn't want to go to the Isles, who grabbed him off waivers last season when Nabokov had intended to join the Detroit Red Wings after playing one year in Russia. The Islanders are still saddled with Rick DiPietro for the next decade, and not looking any better as a team so far this season.
Nabokov himself, who has more than 560 games of NHL experience, might be worth a look for New Jersey.
5. Jhonas Enroth
Enroth has barely begun his NHL career, with just 25 total games played through the middle of November, although he's also gone 16-4-2 in that span. With Ryan Miller likely to be in Buffalo a long time, though, the Swedish puckstopper may be looking for a team of his own next spring—maybe even a team like the Devils.
Question is, given Miller's recent injury history, including a concussion, would the Sabres be willing to part with a backup like Enroth? And if so, who would they want from New Jersey in return?
6. Brian Boucher
Boucher re-energized his NHL career in 2010 when he helped Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Finals. One of his victims along the way that spring was the Devils, and he's obviously familiar with the Eastern Conference.
Despite the wear-and-tear of 13 NHL campaigns, Boucher is only 34, has played in just over 300 games, and may be looking for another shot at a No. 1 job since Cam Ward doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon in Carolina.
7. Niklas Backstrom
If Josh Harding is considered the Wild's No. 1 goalie of the near future, Backstrom could be a viable candidate for the Devils. He'll be just 34 next year, and has almost 300 games, 150 victories, and 25 shutouts in his NHL career.
Backstrom is in just his sixth NHL season, and may be just what New Jersey needs in net—so long as they don't have to give up a Zach Parise to get him.
8. Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Giguere has bounced about the NHL a bit since backstopping the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007. Now with Colorado, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2003 after leading the then-Mighty Ducks to the finals that year, where they came up one game short to the Devils and Brodeur at the Meadowlands.
If newcomer Semyon Varlamov continues to see the bulk of the work in the Avalanche cage this season, it might behoove the Devils to take a look at Giguere, their old finals adversary, and his more than 500 games of NHL experience, along with 235 wins and 35 shutouts.
9. Craig Anderson
Anderson just got to Ottawa last season after backstopping a youthful Colorado squad to the playoffs in 2010, after recording 38 wins and seven shutouts himself that year.
The Sens might be loathe to deal with an Eastern Conference rival, but if they don't ask for too much, Anderson could be a Devil one day.
10. Cory Schneider
Schneider could be exactly what the Devils are looking for.
He's young (25), tall (6'2"), and talented (Jennings Trophy winner last season). He's also probably not going to be the undisputed No. 1 goaltender of his current team any time soon, thanks to the presence of Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.
The only question is the price tag—especially since Schneider, a former Boston College All-America selection and first-round NHL draft choice, will be a restricted free agent in 2012.