Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Martin Brodeur - The Maple Leaf?

I’ve been told on many occasions that 40 is the new 30. This seems to be rooted in the fact that people are living longer than ever -- 77ish, or so I’m told -- and, with more time on earth, we are allowed to extend our “youth”.
It’s hard to say whether this burgeoning adage applies only to single people who are looking for excuses to dress and act 10 years younger than they are or if it extends to the sporting world but either way, some of our favourite athletes from our youths have been looking rather spry of late.

It’s been fun to watch a number of athletes excel late into their 30s, and in some cases their 40s. A few examples spring immediately to mind; Sakic putting up 100 points in 2006 at the ripe old age of 37, Teemu Selanne finishing with a point per game last season at 40, or most recently Nicklas Lidstrom performing like a Norris candidate at 42.
The trend isn’t limited to only skaters, as goalies like Hasek, Belfour, Roy, and Joseph all enjoyed some of their best seasons after the age of 35 (of course I’m ignoring the bitter memory of Cujo's final season in T.O – it still hurts).
The question that has been batted around Toronto sports talk radio is this: Should the Leafs overpay to bring in Martin Brodeur on a 1 or 2 year deal?

Reasons we absolutely NEED to sign Marty

The Development of Ben Scrivens – The general consensus among hockey pundits who understand goalie development better than I, is that Ben Scrivens could still use another year of seasoning before he’s takes on an NHL gig. This would fit perfectly with a Brodeur signing. Either with Marty and Ben sharing time on the big club, or with Scrivens developing on the Marlies and Brodeur giving us 45-50 quality starts this year and next. Side note: I came across a nice scouting report on Ben Scrivens from the writers over at the Goalie Guild, breaking down his tendencies and overall technique.  If Reimer doesn't bounce back, Scrivens could be seriously stunted by having to take the lumps of a full NHL schedule.  Also, Scrivens would have to clear waivers so once he's on the big club, he's there to stay.
Brodeur's Consistency -  From 1994 through to 2012 he’s never had a goals against average above 2.45, with the exception of 2005 when it was 2.57 (Remember this was the year after the lockout, Brian Gionta even scored 48 goals, we’ll give Marty a pass). He’s managed to play in excess of 70 games 12 times over his career. Despite injuries and reduced playing time due to backup Johan Hedberg, Marty still started 56 and 59 games the past two seasons. It’s hard to think of a goalie that has been more durable and consistent over such a long a sample size.
Playoff Contention – We here at BCP have looked at what league average goaltending would have meant to the Leafs. The reality is that had we received even average numbers from our keepers the last 2 years the team likely would have made the post season. Even at 40, Brodeur is safely considered one of the top 10-12 goalies in the league. His stability between the pipes, even if it’s only for 40-50 games would surely boost our playoff odds.

Reasons we absolutely CAN’T sign Marty

He’s Old – As Erik Karlsson would put it, he’s not old for the world per se, but in hockey years he might as well be 100. At 40 the body certainly isn’t what it used to be, recovery time, reflexes, and overall endurance are all significantly lower than what they would have been in his prime. Marty has suffered through injuries in recent years, raising questions about how much is left in the tank.
Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems – Brodeur has been a career Devil and if money isn't the primary motivator for the legendary goalkeeper, then the Leafs haven't even got a puncher's chance.  Brodeur's cap hit for 2011-12 was $5.2 Million. He’ll likely be looking for for a comparable number coming off of the deep Cup run, and it’s widely speculated he took a hometown discount to stay with Devils. To pry him away from New Jersey may take a salary north of 6 million which would put a strain on the Leafs, a team already near the cap ceiling. This could dampen our action in the free agent market, and leave other holes (most notably in our top-6 forwards) wide open.
His Style – Writing about Brodeur's style is like trying to communicate the intricacies of quantum physics to a buddy when you've had too much to drink and haven't taken a physics course since highschool. I don’t know if anyone other than Marty even understands it; it’s one part butterfly, one part stand up, with a bit of 1998 Dominik Hasek sprinkled in. There is no denying his style has been hugely effective at stopping rubber in the past, however that was in New Jersey. The Leafs have been one of the worst defensive teams in recent years and while this could change under Randy Carlyle, if it doesn't, it will mean Brodeur may not be the same goalie in blue and white.
Of course all of this could be moot, given Brodeur's relationship with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey franchise in general.  It’s expected he re-signs and stays in the swamp to suffer the slings and arrows of an ownership in bankruptcy and an aging franchise bereft of prospects capable of filling the forthcoming gaps in the lineup. My humble opinion is that he is absolutely worth the risk on a 2 year deal worth 10 million. I fully understand that he is over 35, and any contract signed would count against the cap even in the event of injury.
My first choice in net this offseason was Tomas Vokoun, for many of the same reasons. A veteran goalie that can bridge the gap between today and our goalie of the future 1-2 years from now. With Vokoun backing up Fleury in Pittsburgh, there really isn’t a better short-term option than Marty.
I don’t know if 40 really is the new 30, but when a guy has 4 Vezinas and 3 Cup rings posted on his resume, there's a good chance he's worth taking a shot at -- especially if you saw how he played in May and June.


AB Pos said...


No no no.


I'd rather trade the 5th pick for Luongo straight up.

No. No no no. A thousand times no.

Anonymous said...

Brodeur would NEVER come to Toronto. He would retire before putting on another teams sweater. This article is pointless.