Could the New Jersey Devils do the unthinkable and trade Martin Brodeur in his 21st season with the team?
As unfathomable as it may seem, under any normal circumstances, Brodeur would absolutely be a trade candidate. A 41-year-old on an expiring contract who has, effectively, lost the starting job to a much better performing 27-year-old. But these aren’t normal circumstances.
Brodeur is an icon, future Hall of Famer and statistically the best goalie the NHL has ever known. He’s played his whole career for the Devils and is seemingly oh so close to being one of the rare few players in the modern day NHL to start and stick with one franchise from beginning to end.
But if GM Lou Lamoriello came to Brodeur and asked him to waive his no-trade clause, the goalie seemed to be open to it if it meant he’d get more playing time. Here is what Brodeur said to Rich Chere of NJ.com:
“It’s within the team’s rights to try and make themselves better. The fact is, I have the luxury to decide what I want to do. I hope if he is able to help the team, he’ll ask, regardless of what it is. It’s definitely something that is possible.
“I don’t know how I’d feel. I don’t know where I’m at with that. I don’t know what I’d think if it were to happen. I definitely would like to play more, so if there is a chance somewhere…
“But I’m not looking for that. I want to make sure this team gets on a playoff run. We’ll see what happens, but stranger things have happened.”
You know what they say: If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded.
But does trading Brodeur make sense for the Devils? In the history of goalie trades, the team who is moving the ‘tender has generally not received much in return, as I explored in a recent blog post. And it’s not as though Brodeur has a lot of time left in him. His contract expires at the end of this season and, while he hasn’t said what his plans are one way or the other yet, he is more likely to retire than carry on.
Since Nov. 27, Brodeur has started 14 games and in those games he’s allowed three goals or more nine times. Not exactly starter numbers. And while it may be difficult for a guy who has been a starter as long as Brodeur to adjust to a backup’s workload and mindset, it’s hard to believe the Devils would get much for a goalie with an .899 save percentage this season. Brodeur is better than only six goalies who qualify for this category: Anders Lindback, Devan Dubnyk, Kevin Poulin, Reto Berra, Cam Ward and Ray Emery.
Brodeur isn’t a player the Devils should trade out of fear of losing him for nothing. At this stage in his career, he is more valuable to the Devils as a safety net backup for Cory Schneider, should Schneider go down to injury down the stretch or even in the playoffs. Brodeur is also more valuable to them as the long-time face and soul of the franchise than any meager return of future assets the Devils would be able to pick up.
Then again, Lou Lamoriello is a genius, experienced manager we can’t underestimate. He’s always doing the unexpected. So even though Brodeur is a special case, he’s right when he suggests stranger things have happened.