NHL

What Brodeur's absence means for Devils

Share This Story

Spector

At home in Prince Edward Island, Canada, he's known as Lyle Richardson. But around these parts, he's known as Spector, FOXSports.com's Prince of Pucks. Check in with Spector's NHL Blog on Yardbarker.com for NHL rumors and analysis.

MORE>>
 
   
 
The news that Martin Brodeur will be sidelined for three to four months following surgery on his left bicep is the ultimate nightmare scenario for the Devils.
The goalie was once described by a reporter as "the reason Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello sleeps peacefully at night." No matter what happened to his club during the season, as long as Brodeur was guarding the net Lamoriello knew his team was a playoff contender. Players have come and gone for the Devils over the past 15 years, but the one constant was Brodeur — their dependable, award-winning workhorse. But the Devils scouting and player development system failed to draft and develop a potential successor for the 36-year-old Brodeur. It was never something that was considered a significant problem — until now. Losing their future Hall of Fame goalie, who this season was gunning to eclipse both Patrick Roy's career wins record and Terry Sawchuk's career shutouts record, is a serious blow for the Devils and threatens to derail their playoff hopes.

The backup

Lamoriello now faces two choices: stick with backup Kevin Weekes or shop around for a potential short-term replacement. Weekes, 33, has appeared in two games this season, with a 0-1-0 record, a 2.00 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. He had previous experience as a starting goalie with the Canucks, Islanders and Hurricanes. In 2003-04, his best season, Weekes had 23 victories, a 2.33 GAA, .912 SP and 6 shutouts. Unfortunately, Weekes hasn't been in a starting role since then, appearing in only 55 games prior to this season between the Devils and Rangers, and it remains to be seen if he has the stamina to handle the heavy workload until Brodeur gets back. Brodeur's ability to handle a heavy workload had a positive psychological effect on his teammates, secure in the knowledge that if they made a mistake, Brodeur would be there to prevent those mistakes from turning into goals. His absence could now make the Devils more fearful, especially if Weekes should struggle to handle the workload.

What about a trade?

If Weekes does struggle and the Devils face the real prospect of falling too far out of the playoff race, it could force Lamoriello into the trade market. The best prospects currently available are Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson and Boston's Manny Fernandez. None of them are of the same caliber as Brodeur, but they do have better resumes than Weekes. Fernandez had his best seasons with the Minnesota Wild from 2000 to 2007, most of that time splitting the duties with Roloson. He's since struggled to recover from knee injuries and has presently lost playing time with the Bruins to Tim Thomas. Roloson carried the Edmonton Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup final, and while he's now considered expendable, his recent play of late (2-1-1, 2.22 GAA, .929 SP) has bolstered his trade value. Age and salary — he's 29 and making $3 million — are potential stumbling blocks toward a deal, although the Oilers aren't expected to seek much in return. Khabibulin has the best resume of the three, having backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup, and has been a regular starting goalie throughout his NHL career. Considered trade bait since the Blackhawks signed Cristobal Huet during the offseason, Khabibulin has outplayed Huet thus far (4-1-2, 2.38 GAA, .919 SP). He does, however, come with an injury history and a hefty $6.75 million salary, making him a costly acquisition. If Lamoriello is forced to consider a trade he won't have much cap space to work with. He is allowed to spend over the cap up to the equivalent of Brodeur's $5.2 million salary, but would have to free up cap space once Brodeur is ready to return, which could prove as difficult as finding a potential replacement. Lamoriello also doesn't have much he can afford to part with right now, particularly if he were interested in Fernandez or Khabibulin. Veteran forwards John Madden and Brian Gionta are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, but the Devils GM probably doesn't want to consider moving them. Lamoriello likely won't panic and could adopt a "wait-and-see" approach to this situation, hoping Weekes can get the job done until Brodeur's return. In the meantime, the next several weeks could be anxious ones for the Devils and their fans.
Tagged: Bruins, Blackhawks, Oilers, Devils, Islanders, Lightning, Wild, Martin Brodeur, John Madden, Kevin Weekes, Nikolai Khabibulin, Manny Fernandez, Cristobal Huet, Brian Gionta, Dwayne Roloson, Tim Thomas

More Stories From Spector



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt