The Devils are in it in a bad way. They’ve got the second-worst record in the NHL, they’ve got one high-scoring winger out injured and another one having a woeful season, and a first-year head coach learning to juggle a lineup fraught with injuries and ineptitude.
The one constant in New Jersey has always been Martin Brodeur and with the team being as bad as they’ve been this year and Brodeur not getting any younger, some have talked about how the Devils should deal the face of the franchise to help themselves out and let Brodeur play for a winner again.
Brodeur has heard all that talk so far and says he’s not interested in bailing on New Jersey for greener, more playoff-likely pastures. Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice hears it straight from the man himself.
“I want to stay,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to play on some great teams here. I’‘m not going to quit now. It’s not really the right way to think about it. At the end of the day it could be out of my hands. But, personally, I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere this season or next season. I’d love to finish my career here.”
Brodeur does have a no-trade on his contract, which expires at the end of the 2011-12 season. Would he be interested in waiving it if the team decides it must completely rebuild and could get a good package of prospects, draft picks, etc. in return for trading him?
“I’ll cross that bridge if that happens,” he said. “It’s a possiblity. We’re not all untouchables. It could be a possibility. But, personally, I don’t want to go anywhere. I like it here. I like playing for this organization and I guarantee you that we won’t have two seasons of that in a row.”
Well hey Devils fans at least you’ve got Marty’s word that next year will be better. As for this year though, what a mess. As for where the Brodeur trade scuttlebutt came from, ESPN’s Scott Burnside made the case that if the Devils were going to do something to help turn the franchise around this year that Brodeur is the most marketable asset right now.
But, what is the team’s most valuable asset? Is it not Brodeur? The game’s greatest goaltender is back from an elbow/arm injury but has played poorly, a function perhaps of rust and the team in front of him. He has another season left at $5.2 million in salary and cap hit. Hard to imagine he would play beyond the end of his current deal with the team in such dire straits. Would Brodeur waive his no-trade clause for another shot at a Cup? Who knows, but what would Brodeur’s value be to a Cup-hungry Washington team that has two promising young goaltenders and a bevy of young prospects? Or to Tampa? What was once unthinkable (Brodeur in a jersey other than the Devils) now must become part of the discussion for a team at the bottom of the well.
Intriguing thoughts for sure, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t hearing any of that talk and says that Brodeur isn’t going anywhere. In the past you could occasionally question whether or not Lamoriello was serious or not but this is one situation where he is. The Devils don’t have much lying in wait in the minors as far as goaltending goes so Brodeur is their man no matter what.
The Devils certainly need to figure things out somehow but ditching the one guy who, despite injuries this season, has been the most reliable player probably isn’t the best way to do it. The season is nearly half over and the Devils are 18 points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re not totally dead yet, but their road to recover and get close to making the playoffs is long and further stumbling only makes it harder. Tossing aside Brodeur for a package of prospects, picks, or veterans won’t do anything to help the team out in the short run.