Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils poses with his father, Denis Brodeur with the game puck from his NHL record-tying 551st win. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
I don’t have a time machine, nor do I have a crystal ball, but I’m going to throw this out there nonetheless: When New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur breaks the records for most regular season career wins and most career shutouts, he will make those marks untouchable.
Of course, there is an irony to this – at one time people thought Terry Sawchuk’s mark of 103 career shutouts was itself too many to surpass. But Brodeur is cresting at the right time for the right team and the fact he has a couple more seasons in him will push those all-time numbers into a bleak stratosphere for all those who attempt to catch him.
With the exception of this season’s freak arm injury, Brodeur is good for at least 70 starts per campaign, while playing on a Devils squad that is always a playoff team (hence, many wins). Even at 37 years of age (which he will become in May), pencil in Marty for one more stellar season (roughly 40 wins), then potentially a falling-off that will net him another 20 victories, if we’re going to be conservative. Heck, it’s Marty – maybe he has two more great seasons after this one.
But I digress. When all is said and done, Brodeur will retire from the NHL with, say, 615 career regular season wins and let’s give him 112 shutouts on top of that. Now, Marty certainly has some exceptional peers in the NHL today, but time and math are working against them.
A cursory search of statistics will tell you the goaltenders with the best opportunity to usurp Brodeur on either record are Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Age and workload (often earlier in their careers) eliminate other elites such as Miikka Kiprusoff, Marty Turco or Evgeni Nabokov. As for young bucks such as Steve Mason or somewhat tarnished golden boy Carey Price, a legacy of long-term success naturally must come first.
At 29 years old, Luongo currently sits at 222 career wins and 43 shutouts. He has played eight full seasons in the NHL and probably has 10 more barring unforeseen circumstance. Forecast 35 wins per season in that decade and his total comes to 580 (I assume he’ll win a couple more this year), a fantastic total, but likely short of Brodeur in the end. King Louie is also on pace to break Sawchuk’s shutout record, but alas; by the time he gets there, it will be Brodeur’s, and the number will be higher.
Lundqvist, even younger than Luongo, could play at least a dozen more NHL seasons, but would have to be remarkably consistent on a team that is anything but. Nevertheless, if you have faith in Hank, give him 35 wins per campaign. Tack those on to his 135 victories to date and Lundqvist tops out at approximately 550. The big problem with Hank is the scattershot history he has with shutouts. On last year’s solidly defensive Rangers team, he had 10. This year, thanks to Wade Redden, Dmitri Kalinin (since traded) and all, he has just two.
Average those out to six per year and Lundqvist still doesn’t even come close.
But the biggest advantage Brodeur has is the fact he’s already accomplished the bulk of his numbers. He doesn’t have to worry about his team rebuilding at some point in his career; he doesn’t have to worry about lockouts or wonky groins; he’s made it already.
So while the goaltenders of today are fabulous, Marty will outlast them all.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
Speaking of goalies, time’s almost up on the THN goalie mask tournament with the slimmest of margin separating the two finalists.
Voting shuts down Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST on the showdown between Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala, so hit that, people!
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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