The New Jersey Devils’ nightmare 2010-11 season has shown no sign of slowing down, prompting some to suggest that the team should consider trading franchise goalie Martin Brodeur.
That would have been an asinine idea no more than a year ago, but the Devils (9-21-2) are in a very different place now than they were then.
First, the team is clearly not as good as it has been for the last decade. The Devils atrocious start can be blamed partially on injuries, but the reality is that this group has finally aged and is very short on the young talent that would suggest a return to contention is in sight.
Second, the team faces a major salary cap conundrum. Thanks to the much-publicized Ilya Kovalchuk signing, the Devils are right up against the cap and have already had to dress fewer than the regular 20 skaters several times this season to save money. Complicating things further is that the team must find a way to sign its one young star, Zach Parise, to a long-term deal at the end of the season when he’ll be a restricted free agent.
And third, Brodeur himself has lost a step and is obviously in the twilight of his illustrious career. Brodeur has attempted to fight through several nagging injuries already this year that undoubtedly hurt his game, but his numbers are significantly down across the board and may not improve, especially considering the porous defence the Devils have in front of him.
It would outrage their fan base, but the Devils have no choice but to listen to offers for the best player the franchise has ever had. If the Devils can reload their prospect pipeline with talented players, they’d have to unload Brodeur for the good of the franchise.
The problem is, there might not be any attractive offers forthcoming. Brodeur is no longer among the NHL’s elite goalies and at age 38 his best days are behind him. Brodeur also comes with another year and $5.2 million on his contract, an extremely high number for a goalie. There’s no way anyone would be willing to trade the prospects and draft picks the Devils would require to deal the beloved Brodeur at his age and salary cap number.
Plus, if teams are looking for a successful veteran goalie, they can sign Evgeni Nabokov, just back from Russia, at a far cheaper price than Brodeur’s and without having to give up any of their own players. Nabokov struggled in Russia this year too, but he’s three years younger than Brodeur. You’d have to think he’s a more enticing option for NHL teams than Brodeur.
So even if the Devils decide to listen to phone calls on who is arguably the best goalie in NHL history, there probably won’t be anyone interested.
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