By: John Fabiano, RulingSports.com Intern (Twitter: @Fabs5180)
After signing with an agent to prepare for free agency and the possibility of signing with a team other than the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur decided to stay with the only team for whom he has ever dressed over the course of his 19-year career. The forty-year-old netminder signed a deal that will pay him $9 million over the next two years.
Brodeur is recognized as one of the best goaltenders of all time and will probably be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He has won three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and is a four-time Vezina trophy winner. His league records include wins, shutouts, and games played. Always known for his ability to play the puck, Brodeur is also tied for the most career goals by a goalie.
After a loss to the Kings in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, Brodeur contemplated retirement but instead opted to test free agency. In a thin year for free agents, an aged Broduer was still the biggest goalie name to hit the market. It is reported that the Devils’ initial offer was for only one year, but Brodeur was looking for a two-year deal to give him more security with a possible lockout looming. After experiencing free agency for less than a day, and turning down offers from a few other teams, Brodeur decided to sign with New Jersey once they offered him a second year on the deal.
The contract’s $4.5 million cap hit places him 12th in the league for goalies, tied with Rick DiPietro and Jonas Hiller. The only goalie to receive a larger yearly average this offseason is Carey Price. The 24-year-old restricted free agent received a 6-year, $39 million extension for a $6.5 million per year cap hit.
The Devils were smart to sign Brodeur. Any backup plan to sign a goaltender through free agency would not have been attractive to the Devils’ fan base. Some of the most notable names were Chris Mason, Jonas Gustavsson, and Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen spent time as Brodeur’s backup earlier in his career but has never locked down a starting job. Mason and Gustavsson both signed deals as backups for next season. None of those names would have been able to fill Brodeur’s skates.
Roberto Luongo is on the trading block and is a name that the Devils could have sought, but there was no guarantee that the team could have put together a deal for the former NHL All-star.
The deal is even more important for the Devils now that they have lost out in the negotiations of their former captain Zach Parise. The prize of free agency decided on Wednesday to sign with his hometown team, the Minnesota Wild.
The deal was a win-win for both sides. The Devils will now see the most prominent player in the franchise’s history retire in a Devils uniform and Brodeur gets to return to New Jersey, which he stated is where he wanted to play next season all along. It will still take some time for Devils fans to recover from the loss of Zach Parise, but they can take some comfort in knowing that it will still be Marty’s Party in New Jersey for the next two years.