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