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March 12, 2014 | 11:06am ET
Forever a Devil
 Not trading Martin Brodeur was the right move, but the future Hall-of-Famer's days in New Jersey are nearing its end.

NEW YORK, NY -- If New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello traded Martin Brodeur, it would have been a deal shrouded in regret from both parties for a long time. It's was rumor blanketed in so much absurdity that is almost felt like it was really going to come true.

On the surface, and from a purely logical standpoint, there's a small argument that can be made for dealing Brodeur. But once you dive deep down and continue to peel layers away, it makes less and less sense.

ďOne way or the other, whatever is best for myself and for the organization, this is what is going to happen," Brodeur told the Newark Star Ledger heading into a trade deadline, which ultimately saw him stay put. "One way or the other, Iím fine with it but Iíve played here all my life. Definitely itís something you take a lot into consideration when the conversation (Lamoriello) happens.Ē

From a hockey standpoint, his game has declined severely over the last four years leaving him a below-replacement level starting goaltender at this point.

The Devils traded a top-10 draft choice in last year's NHL Entry Draft to acquire the younger and better Cory Schneider, a goaltender whom the role of starter was practically named after.

Brodeur is over 40 and this may be his last season in the NHL.

There is a lot more to this trade than getting minimal value back for -- arguably -- the greatest player to ever call New Jersey home and one of the greatest to ever play the position.

When you boil down sports to the business that it is, it leaves an unsavory taste. It's about making some already affluent owner or owners even more money. The whole thing reeks of opulence from that perspective. It's not really about the fans, in the sense that the fans are just dollar signs and it's not about the trophies or accolades in the sense that those too, ultimately just equate to another zero in the team's bottom line. But that's why stories like Brodeur's are so great.

From one perspective, the Devils have always seemed like the little brother to the Rangers and every other sports team in the metropolitan area. But in New Jersey, they have a dedicated fanbase that followed them from the swamps and marshes of the Meadowlands to Newark. They deserve to watch the player that kept them relevant throughout the 1990s and 2000s retire with the horned "NJ" on his chest.

Brodeur changed the conversation in the mid-1990s. Before the ticker tape was even cleared off of Broadway, he brought the Stanley Cup to New Jersey, and would twice more in the next decade to come.

Of course if the emotional aspect of the game means nothing to you, your heart pumps cold blood and you are totally ambivalent towards love and life, this trade makes zero sense from a hockey perspective too. Goaltenders have almost no value on the trade market, when team's are realizing that you can win a Stanley Cup with guys like Corey Crawford. Essentially, you either have an upper echelon elite goaltender like Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist or you can get by with replacement-level goaltending in net.

Take two trades this season, involving goaltenders to precisely pinpoint how little value goaltenders typically have when it comes to trades.

Ben Scrivens was traded for a third round draft selection. Scrivens is a younger player than Brodeur, has better numbers than Brodeur, costs less than Brodeur and has a larger upside than Brodeur.

Devin Dubnyk, a player with equally awful numbers this year, was traded for Matt Hendricks, a mediocre bottom-six player on lengthy contract and eventually claimed on waivers for nothing but a minimal cap hit.

Of course desperation can drive prices up, with Ryan Miller getting a ton of value from the St. Louis Blues, but for the most part, goaltenders donít hold the value the other skaters do.

Would trading Brodeur for a pair of fourth round draft choices, or even a late second round pick worth it?

For a similar metric, take Tim Thomas, a player with similar numbers to Brodeur. His return was 30-year-old career backup Dan Ellis.

Was a package like that worth it for Brodeur? Probably not.

Of course, if some team was foolish enough to offer a bundle of draft choices and prospects, Lamoriello shouldn't hold onto Brodeur just for the sake of it. But with what he means to the franchise and the value the team could reasonably get back for him, it makes no sense to let him go.

The most dumbfounding aspect of this involves any potential trade partners. Which NHL team out there would have given up assets for Brodeur?

His save percentage heading into the Olympic break was a paltry .899. The last three seasons he has finished with a .901, .908 and .903 respectively.

Is he really any better at this point than what the contending teams in both conferences have in net?

What if, for their franchise goaltender the Devils were to receive a third round pick, would that have made sense?

Here is the list of third round draft selections the Devils have made over the past decade in descending chronological order: Ryan Kujawinski, Ben Johnson, Blake Coleman, Scott Wedgewood, Alexander Urbom, Adam Henrique, Corbin McPherson, Nick Palmieri, Vladimir Zharkov, Kirill Tulupov, Mark Fraser.

That's one legitimate above average NHL player. Fans love the unknown, but is that really worth saying your goodbyes to Martin Brodeur -- a man that had more to do with the team still be in New Jersey than arguably any other player -- while he dons a different sweater?

Brodeur stayed positive throughout the whole ordeal, acknowledging that if the team thinks it's best to trade him, then they should trade him. He knows the fans have his back, however. There were even rumors that the trade requests came directly from him or his camp, although the tight-lipped Devils organization will indubitably discuss nothing further on that matter.

ďNobody wants me to go anywhere,Ē he told Star Ledger after the Olympic break. ďItís kind of nice to have that support from the fans. Theyíve been really loyal to me. So when they hear people speculating about me maybe moving or asking or getting asked, the people Iím seeing say they are happy and want me to stay. At least in my face theyíre saying that.

Those same fans packed the Prudential Center even at the slightest hint that the marriage between Lamoriello and Brodeur might end.

Whatever happens this offseason -- whether itís retirement or suiting up for a different team -- Brodeur will certainly be returning to New Jersey soon, when they hang his number from the rafters.

Patrick Kearns is a Columnist for TheFourthPeriod.com and the New York Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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