Free Agency 2012: Martin Brodeur now a UFA
Wayne Gretzky once called the New Jersey Devils a "Mickey-Mouse operation," and then they drafted Martin Brodeur.
Before Brodeur the crease in New Jersey was occupied by the likes of NHL journeymen such as Sean Burke and Chris Terrari. For 19 seasons, Martin Brodeur has defined the New Jersey Devils.
19 seasons, 113 playoff wins, 4 Vezina Trophy's and 3 Stanley Cups, all in a Devils uniform. The notion of Marty wearing anything else is staggering but maybe even a little exciting.
The 40-year-old veteran is officially on the market. His new agent, Pat Brisson, has given the Devil's an ultimatum.
"He will be testing free agency if a deal is not in place by Sunday," said Brisson.
As the clock strikes midnight Sunday morning and the legendary goaltender remains a free agent, the obligatory question remains; Where will he land?
His remarkable run to the Stanley Cup finals this season proved that he still has the spark and that neither his body or heart are ready to hang ‘em up. Whether or not the Devils are in a position to do it again, with or without Brodeur, remains uncertain.
Without a whole lot of goaltending depth, the Devils ought to throw everything they can at Brodeur to keep him in New Jersey. If the financially crippled Devil's do however chose to let him go and dedicate cap space to say, Zach Parise, it will be personal factors and the ability to win, not dollars, influencing his decision.
Tampa Bay and Chicago are both rumoured as potential suitors. Both clubs are a mere goaltender short of being true Cup contenders. They could provide Brodeur the opportunity to finish off his career in grand fashion with a Stanley Cup or at least a lengthy playoff run.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's failure to make the playoffs this season can easily be blamed on a lack of goaltending. Brodeur could provide General Manager Steve Yzerman the perfect quick fix to shift the Lightening back into playoff mode.
Since winning it all in 2010, goaltending has remained a glaring omission of the Blackhawks roster. Brodeur could be what the Blackhawks and budding backstop Corey Crawford need to regain the Central crown.
There is also the exciting prospect of him finishing his career in his hometown of Montreal, where he wouldn't necessarily win, but would allow him to be closer to his family. A nice transition into retirement.
The New Jersey Devils must do whatever they can to keep the man who has defined not only the club, but his position. If they don't, let the games begin.