New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur

With Tuesday’s free-agency frenzy an absolute frantic avalanche of signings, Day 2 was much more subdued by comparison. The opening of the market was highlighted by some marquee players changing teams, some inked to modest, shrewd deals that can make an impact for years to come, with others agreeing to the sort of ulcer-inducing contracts that may come back to haunt the general manager responsible for doling out the cash.

Because there was such a scramble on Tuesday, with names like Paul Stastny, Jarome Iginla, Matt Niskanen and Thomas Vanek flying around, Wednesday left little by way of starpower for the teams still looking to add depth to their rosters.

After striking out on Tuesday, the Isles inked both Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski to a pair of four-year deals. Veteran center Olli Jokinen signed with the Nashville Predators. Other than that, there were a few depth players, but no one particularly noteworthy.

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsAt 42 years old, Martin Brodeur has played his entire career with the New Jersey Devils.
Yet, teams still have holes to address and there are plenty of unrestricted free agents in need of jobs. It’s a much more modest market now, but there are still a few veteran players out there up for grabs.

Future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has spent his entire career as a New Jersey Devil, headlines the class of free agents still searching for new teams. The 42-year-old's availability was a subject of significant intrigue, given that he was finally cutting ties with the organization that drafted him back in 1990.

Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Toronto were floated as possible landing spots for the three-time Stanley Cup champion, but the Penguins signed backup Thomas Greiss, the Maple Leafs opted (at least for now) not to trade James Reimer and the Wild curiously stood pat despite their uncertainty in net.

Brodeur is currently evaluating a few different options, but is content to wait longer than originally anticipated if the right fit does not present itself, a source told ESPN.com.

How long exactly? It may behoove Brodeur to wait until training camp, when an untimely injury could prompt a team to seek immediate help. And maybe there is still a chance (albeit very slim, we would think) that he goes back to New Jersey. After all, Scott Clemmensen was signed to a one-year, two-way contract, and who knows how Keith Kinkaid will fare as backup to Cory Schneider?

Elsewhere, there are still some quality players to sign. Despite the “behavioral issues” that earned him a buyout from the Arizona Coyotes, Mike Ribeiro can add depth at center for a team looking for some immediate help. Veteran centers David Legwand and Derek Roy could also be solid pickups for a team with a void down the middle. Radim Vrbata is the top-scoring forward left on the market; the 33-year-old winger is coming off a 20-goal season for the Yotes, and as of Tuesday was seen as an attractive option for a handful of teams, with ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reporting that he was in discussions with five clubs.

Things get a bit thinner on defense. No surprise, really, since this free-agent class of defensemen was not regarded as very strong. With the likes of Niskanen, Anton Stralman and Dan Boyle snatched up on Tuesday, the remaining blueliners offer pretty slim pickings.

Veteran Derek Morris is still out there, as is Anton Volchenkov, who was bought out earlier this week. Paul Ranger has generated interest in the past. Tim Gleason is another former Maple Leaf looking for a new home.

What happens on Thursday and the rest of the week is anyone's guess, but it doesn't promise to be too enthralling.

Brodeur showered with support in finale

April, 13, 2014
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Technically, it was a meaningless game. Earlier in the week, the New Jersey Devils were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. And the Boston Bruins, who seemingly left half their squad at home, had already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy.

But Sunday’s 3-2 win for the Devils was not meaningless, not for the team, not for the fans and not for goaltender Martin Brodeur, who left the Prudential Center ice with the crowd on its feet in what was very likely his last game as a New Jersey Devil.

The Devils’ fan base hasn’t had much to cheer about lately. Two straight seasons without a playoff appearance. The departure of two star players in consecutive summers. An absolutely maddening 0-for-13 shootout record this season.

[+] EnlargeBrodeur Fan
Andy Marlin/NHLI/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur received a lot of support from fans at Sunday's season finale.
But the crowd had plenty to cheer about Sunday in recognizing the iconic netminder and his unparalleled contributions to the Devils' organization over the past 21 years.

The fans began with a raucous whoop when Brodeur was announced as the day’s starter. Then, another rowdy outburst when Brodeur stuffed Boston’s Reilly Smith in the first period. They shouted and screamed their approval after his terrific glove save on Alexander Khokhlachev during the third period. And with four minutes remaining in the game, they erupted into spontaneous chants, alternating between “Marty, Marty!” and “Marty’s better!” and finally, “Thank you, Marty.”

Not even a power-play goal surrendered with 16 seconds remaining could spoil the fun. The crowd was back on its feet when the final buzzer sounded. And the love and appreciation and admiration were palpable for the beloved goaltender, who took a final twirl at center ice after his teammates’ urging.

“It was pretty hard,” Brodeur said, admitting he became emotional at the outpouring of support. “These people are my family.”

Those fans were there for him throughout his illustrious career, one that brought three Stanley Cup championships to New Jersey and an amassed 688 wins. Sunday, they were able to thank him for all that he did and all the memories they share.

It was a celebration that was fitting, and well-deserved.

“He’s the best goaltender to ever play the game, hands down,” said teammate Travis Zajac. “People will remember him by his Stanley Cups ... He’ll always be a Devil.”

That means even if Brodeur signs elsewhere this summer, a possibility that seems even more likely after listening to him address his future following Sunday’s 16-save effort in the season finale. Brodeur said he’d be open to returning to New Jersey, though it sounded like he was looking forward to seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Brodeur faced a hard intersection this season, one in which his remarkable history with the team no longer guaranteed a spot in its future. Nostalgia was not enough to solidify his spot as a starter, and so he was relegated to a backup role.

It would be a difficult position for any player to accept, but one so much more painful for a player of his caliber. Brodeur didn’t become the type of player he is -- an irrefutable first-ballot Hall of Famer -- without an insatiable competitive fire.

So, maybe it’s not the worst thing if Brodeur does move on. With his diminished playing time this season, Brodeur has already teetered perilously close to becoming disgruntled. Another year in which he feels marginalized could sour the relationship entirely, forcing a bitter divorce.

Better to leave now rather than risk tarnishing his legacy, and relationship, with the team that became his home.

The Devils defined his career. And he helped define the Devils.

If his last time as a Devil was Sunday, when he was allowed to cherish and savor the shower of appreciation he received from the fans, that will have been a proper exit.

His place in the club’s history is set. And it doesn’t have to change.

“Just excellence,” coach Pete DeBoer said of Brodeur’s career with New Jersey. “Decades of excellence.”

Final farewell for Brodeur?

April, 10, 2014
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Will Martin Brodeur get a final farewell in front of the New Jersey Devils fans?

With the Devils now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs -- rendering the remaining three games of the season essentially meaningless -- and another pair of matches at home in Newark’s Prudential Center, that would seem to set a stage for Brodeur’s last hurrah as a Devil.

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Andy Marlin/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur has surrendered the No. 1 goaltending slot to Cory Schneider.
But coach Pete DeBoer was mum about his plans beyond Thursday night.

When asked about the possibility, Brodeur said he hasn’t given it that much thought.

“I might have played my last game here. Who knows?” he told reporters on Thursday. “We’ll see. It’s something we’ll have to talk about.”

The 41-year-old veteran, who has been outspoken and somewhat critical about his long-time club recently, is expected by many to continue playing after the expiry of his current contract with the Devils.

Brodeur told local reporters on Thursday that he plans to explore the market as a free agent this summer. He also admitted that he won’t be surprised if the Devils are not among the list of suitors for his services.

“I don’t expect them to come running after me.” Broduer said.

The future Hall of Famer surrendered the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider with a lackluster performance this season. He was 18-14-5 with a .900 save percentage and 2.54 goals against average for the Devils, who narrowly missed the playoffs just two years after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

Had they won just half of their shootouts, they’d have had a fighting chance. But that, combined with their goal-starved offense (25th in the league with 2.42 goals per game), put them behind the eight-ball in the Eastern Conference.

Playing Brodeur as much as he did, despite heir apparent Cory Schneider’s seemingly-superior play may also have been a mistake.

Will he be around next year for a similar dilemma?

“Regardless of if I stay or leave," Brodeur said. "The Devils are in unbelievable hands with [Schneider].”

Brodeur's last game as a Devil?

April, 1, 2014
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Have we seen Martin Brodeur’s last game as a New Jersey Devil?

That seems a very likely possibility after the 41-year-old netminder was yanked from Monday night’s game against the Florida Panthers after he gave up three goals on nine shots.

After the game, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the move a “wake-up call” for his team, and the decision had the desired effect.

Cory Schneider, sent out to replace Brodeur in net, stopped all 13 shots faced from Florida in route to the Devils’ 6-3 win, an absolutely vital victory to keep the Devils’ playoff chances alive.

New Jersey trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by just three points for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining.

Considering the two goaltenders’ play this season, it is not hard to imagine who will be between the pipes for the remainder of the season in New Jersey.

Brodeur, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, will go down as one of the team’s greats and one of the best goaltenders in NHL history. But his time in New Jersey appears to be done, as we were all reminded Monday night when the boo birds appeared in Newark’s Prudential Center.

Brodeur deal imminent? Not so fast

March, 4, 2014
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Martin BrodeurAP Photo/Bill KostrounCould Martin Brodeur be on his way to Minnesota?
UPDATE: The Minnesota Wild acquired veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round draft selection (click here for the full story). This makes it very unlikely that the Wild would also get Brodeur

With the NHL trade deadline looming, don’t expect any of the speculation surrounding goaltender Martin Brodeur to die down until the clock strikes 3:01 p.m. on Wednesday.

The 41-year-old Brodeur, who is believed to be open to a trade, could be on the move after spending his entire 20-year career with New Jersey.

One report that surfaced Tuesday morning suggested that a deal with the Minnesota Wild may already be in the works, though that seems suspect for one very obvious reason.

While the Wild’s interest in Brodeur is believed to be legitimate -- Minnesota could use some goaltending insurance with Josh Harding’s status unclear -- it is entirely inconceivable that the Devils would let the goalie start Tuesday night against Detroit if a deal was actually in place.

Even if Brodeur wanted some sort of one-game farewell to Devils fans, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would never run the risk of an injury that could derail the deal.

Though Brodeur appears at least open to the possibility of exploring a trade, it is not immediately known whether Lamoriello would be prepared to part ways with the future Hall of Famer when the time comes.

Lamoriello has previously said he’d take his cues from Brodeur, who would need to waive his no-trade clause for any deal to take place, but perhaps that is easier said than done.

This is not to say that the Wild are not the most logical landing spot for Brodeur. Considering the Wild's positional needs and the fact Brodeur's two teen-aged sons attend prestigious hockey prep school Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., it makes a lot of sense.

But the idea that a deal has already been agreed on does not.

Brodeur yanked after barrage of goals

January, 26, 2014
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NEW YORK -- What could've been another remarkable chapter in the Hall of Fame career of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur instead became a day he'll want to forget.

Brodeur gave up six goals and was pulled after two periods in the Rangers' 7-3 win Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Brodeur gave up five straight goals after the Devils took a 3-1 lead, but he did not place the blame on himself, instead citing bad luck and excess odd-man rushes.

"Tough game to be a part of," Brodeur said. "You look forward to these kind of events and you have a result like that and it's not that fun."

Despite strong play this season from goalie Cory Schneider, Devils coach Pete DeBoer gave Brodeur the start Sunday to reward him for his contributions to the franchise. Brodeur said Saturday that he hoped to make good memories, but there won't be many for him from this game.

The Rangers sliced their deficit to 3-2 late in the first period when Marc Staal tallied a goal. Brodeur said the puck was going wide but defenseman Marek Zidlicky attempted to kick it, which careened the puck through Brodeur's legs and seemingly galvanized the Rangers.

In the second period, behind what Brodeur estimated to be between seven and nine odd-man rushes, the Rangers had their way with Brodeur. Mats Zuccarello evened the score early on, and the Rangers put three more on the board before the period was finished, the last coming with 29 seconds remaining. The Rangers' go-ahead goal from Zuccarello came on a three-on-one rush, and the fifth goal appeared to deflect off a Devils player.

Brodeuer said the Devils gambled defensively a bit once the game was tied, which helped created offense for the Rangers. "It was not something that we usually do," Brodeur said. "They made us pay the price because we weren't disciplined."

Brodeur dropped to 13-11-4 on the season, finishing with 15 saves. During the second period, with the Rangers rolling, Rangers fans mocked Brodeur with "Mar-Ty!" chants. Brodeur also called the makeshift rink "the worst ice I ever played hockey on."

"Bad luck. Bottom line," Brodeur said. "They threw pucks at net. They kept it real simple and I think four or five of the six goals I got scored on was through our own players, skating in. Just one of those nights."

Before the third period began, Brodeur talked to DeBoer and told him if he wanted to put Schneider in for the experience of playing in a game of this magnitude, he had no issue with that. While the move may have been fueled by Brodeur's performance, DeBoer did make the switch. The Rangers scored once on Schneider, with Derek Stepan cashing in on a penalty shot.

Despite the outcome, Brodeur relished the chance to play in an outdoor game for the first --and perhaps final -- time of his career.

"It was tremendous," Brodeur said. "The whole atmosphere about this event -- the mixed fans in the building, the aura of playing at Yankee Stadium, the whole thing was unbelievable -- beside the hockey game."

Brodeur to start Stadium Series game

January, 25, 2014
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BrodeurEd Mulholland/-USA TODAY SportsMartin Brodeur gets the nod over Cory Schneider to start in goal at Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK -- Martin Brodeur will get the start for the New Jersey Devils in Sunday’s heralded Stadium Series game against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer described it as the “right thing to do” for the legendary goaltender and future Hall of Famer.

Is this surprising?

No, not really, especially considering all Brodeur has done for the franchise throughout an illustrious 20-year career, but with the two teams so close in the standings and a critical two points at stake, the choice is still one up for debate.

DeBoer decided to go with Brodeur despite the fact his heir apparent has posted significantly better numbers this season. Though Cory Schneider has a middling 9-9-7 record, he boasts an impressive 1.84 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He has also held opponents to two goals or fewer in each of his past eight starts. By comparison, Brodeur is 13-10-4, with a 2.36 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.


“The tough part is that Cory is on a roll right now, and he’s been almost unbeatable for the last five or six games,” DeBoer said. “So that threw a little bit of a wrench in the thinking, but at the end of the day, this is the right thing to do. And both guys have handled it professionally and Cory understands that.”

The 41-year-old Brodeur has not played since Jan. 18 with the Devils currently riding the hot hand.

“I’m happy to play a game. It’s been a while. It’s been over a week,” Brodeur said after the Devils practice Saturday. “Kind of a little different setting to do it, but it’s exciting.”

Schneider is already well-versed in the delicate dance of two dueling goaltenders from his days in Vancouver, where he split time in net with Roberto Luongo. As such, he was diplomatic when discussing DeBoer’s choice.

“He just pulled me aside and said this has been 20 years in the making for Marty and that it’s a big moment for the organization and would be sort of symbolic of what he’s meant to this team,” Schneider said. “He’s played well all season long.”

Brodeur, who grew up playing hockey on outdoor rinks as a school-aged boy in Montreal, said he was looking forward to the experience. He didn’t expect to get the chance while playing for the Devils, and he will relish the opportunity.

“I’ve watched a lot of them through the years and I never guessed that the Devils would be in one. And here we’re going to play tomorrow,” Brodeur said. “So I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be good memories, hopefully.”

NYC or L.A.? Fellow veteran Jaromir Jagr said if he had the choice of playing an outdoor game in L.A. or New York, he’d choose the sunny California locale, if only to prevent the type of lower-body injury he sustained during the last NHL outdoor game he experienced, against the Rangers in 2012, while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

“If I had a choice to play here or in L.A., I would probably choose L.A. -- nothing against the Yankees or New York. I think [that way] because I had a bad experience two years ago,” Jagr explained. “I got injured in the first period [of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic] and it was the same weather -- it was pretty cold. And I think it’s a lot tougher for the muscles to get warmed up. And I feel like it would be a lot better for me, for my body, to play in different conditions.”

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