Martin Brodeur has a pair of new backups in New Jersey.
One might finally be his successor.
The other might hitch a ride from home on the way to training camp.
New Jersey pulled off the biggest trade of Sunday’s NHL Draft when they acquired goaltender Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for the ninth pick. The Canucks selected center Bo Horvat on Sunday at the Prudential Center.
Schneider, 27, immediately seems in line to be the eventual successor to Brodeur in net. He was on the market once the Canucks were unable to dump high-priced goalie Roberto Luongo.
”I’ve been a fan of Marty Brodeur’s since I was younger,” Schneider told the Devils’ website. ”To potentially get work with him is going to be incredible. Just to see him coming off a Stanley Cup finals trip just a year ago, I know they have a lot of good pieces in place.”
Brodeur, the NHL’s career wins leader, and Johan Hedberg were the oldest goalie tandem in the league last season.
Schneider can now be groomed to take over for Brodeur, 41, one of the NHL’s all-time great goalies. Brodeur developed a neck injury in February and missed almost a month. Hedberg took over and the team went 3-8-2.
”I think for the future of the organization, it’s the best move,” Brodeur said. ”I think Cory is one of the top five goalies in my mind in the NHL. I’m not going to play forever. I’m definitely going to try and push him and get the ice time as much as I can. But he’s the future of the organization.”
Brodeur has only ever played for New Jersey, and has led the Devils to three Stanley Cup titles (1995, 2000, 2003).
”Marty is still a No. 1 goaltender. There’s no question there,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said. ”It’s just a question of how much he can play to keep him at the top of his game. The back-to-back games, and certainly with the Olympic year – where there’s going to be a condensed schedule – this gives us the transition that we feel we (were looking for) a year ago.
Brodeur had one more career highlight to add to the reel on Sunday. Brodeur helped steal the show when he made the announcement that the Devils had drafted his son, Anthony.
”The best part was my son getting drafted,” Brodeur said.
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis has been wrestling with a tough goaltender situation for some time. Both Schneider and Luongo have the skill-sets to be full-time NHL starters, and have been so over their careers. But as the team moves forward into a new era with new coach John Tortorella behind the bench, it was Schneider who was moved out.
”Today’s decision was made after a thorough review of our options,” Gillis said, ”and in the interest of improving this team long-term through the draft and development of players. We appreciate the high level of professionalism and conduct both Cory and Roberto have shown while continuing to help this team be competitive.
”I would like to personally thank Cory for his contributions to our team and wish him the very best and a bright future.”
Schneider fits right into New Jersey’s long-term plans. He has two years left on a contract that counts $4 million against the salary cap.
”It’s good to have some closure one way or another,” he said. ”I wasn’t expecting to get traded, but we always knew it was a possibility and that’s how it happened. But it’s exciting to get a new opportunity and join a new organization.”
The Devils, a year after winning the Eastern Conference, did not make the postseason this year. The Canucks lost in the first round.
Brodeur has won two Olympic gold medals, playing for Canada (2002 and 2010). He also won the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender, four times, and will easily retire as the game’s best stickhandling netminder.
He’s just not ready to go yet.
The Devils made a late trade with the Los Angeles Kings to nab the 208th overall pick and one of the final ones in the seventh round. Brodeur took the microphone and announced Anthony’s name. Brodeur waited at the team’s draft table to present his 18-year-old son, also a goaltender, with a jersey.
”I grew up watching the Devils, cheering on the Devils, cheering on my dad,” Anthony said. ”Being in this jersey right now, in this arena, it’s awesome.”
Anthony Brodeur’s friends and family in the stands erupted in cheers.
”It was getting late, but who cares,” Brodeur’s mother, Melanie said. ”All he needs is a shot. We saw Lou (Lamoriello) walking around and we’re like, `Ok, this is good, keep walking’.”
New Jersey took the elder Brodeur in the 1990 first round. He received a brief taste of the NHL in 1991, and was there to stay in 1993, leading the Devils to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994.
”Certainly, Marty is at a point where he can’t play the way he played, as far as the number of games he played,” Lamoriello said. ”This young man has proven to be a No. 1 goaltender. We feel great about it.”
Brodeur is still among the league’s most popular players and recently won a fan vote to make the cover of the ”NHL 14” video game coming out in September by EA Sports. Brodeur has one year left on his deal.
Brodeur, who met with the media before the trade was announced, refused to put a timetable on the end of his career.
”I’ve been watching a lot of games and a lot of goalies, and I’m like, `All right, I can still do that, too’,” he said. ”I’m still excited about playing the game.”