Fantasy Puck: Before the Devils Know They're Dead Talent Blog
11/4/2008 2:50:56 PM
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The Devils will be without Martin Brodeur for three-to-four months with a torn tendon in his elbow.

My keeper league team will be without Martin Brodeur for three-to-four months as well.  How will we (The Devils and Brodeur owners) survive?

Let's start with the Devils.

In the immediate future, Kevin Weekes steps into the starting role, something he hasn't been asked to since 2003-2004, before the lockout, when he was with the Rangers.

Now, Weekes' first start -- last night against Buffalo -- was a strong effort, stopping 28 of 30 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Sabres, but that doesn't appear to be typical for what the Devils can expect.

In the last three seasons, Weekes has posted an .891 save percentage, well below the .918 save percentage Brodeur has compiled over the same time frame.

While the Devils' defence isn't the lockdown unit of years gone by, they do rank sixth in the league with just 27.0 shots against per game. 

At that rate, however, the Devils could expect to surrender an extra .73 goals against per game, a significant number. If Brodeur is sidelined through the end of February, which would mean missing 51 games over the next four months, that would mean an extra 37 goals against and unless the Devils somehow become explosive offensively (while not surrendering more scoring chances), that could be the difference between making the playoffs and falling into the lottery crowd.

In the latest Power Rankings, the Devils are 14th, but it's asking a lot for Weekes to keep them in that spot.  In the updated Player Rankings, Brodeur is ranked 9th among goaltenders, a bar that is awfully high for a backup to reach.

The other in-house goaltending option for the Devils is Scott Clemmensen, who is getting called up and, according to the Bergen Record, could get a start as soon as this weekend.  

The 31-year-old journeyman has never played more than 13 NHL games in a season and isn't off to a great start at Lowell in the AHL, posing a 3.46 goals against average and .895 save percentage in eight games.

Since those options are mostly unappealing, the Devils could consider a trade.

Some proven veteran goaltenders that could be available include Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson, Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin and Boston's Manny Fernandez, all of whom are making significant money (all at $3-million or more) in the final year of their current contract. 

While the Devils would get some cap relief once Brodeur was placed on long-term disability, there would be another move required to clear out that salary whenever Brodeur is ready to return.

Younger alternatives like Atlanta's Ondrej Pavelec or Chicago's Corey Crawford could also be worth exploring, though they would likely cost more in terms of players, prospects or picks.

Given that the Brodeur-less Devils aren't a playoff-calibre team, though, New Jersey has to do something more than just hope Kevin Weekes can turn back the clock and play like he did with Carolina in 2003-2004.

Now to the fantasy owners.

In my league, I'm somewhat fortunate in that we only use one goalie per week and I've been well stocked with Brodeur and Ryan Miller, able to pick and choose who to start in a given week based on matchups.

With Miller playing so well, he'll be the guy I turn to every week now, but I will hit the waiver wire to find a suitable backup.  Some of the top free agent goalies that could find a spot in my squad include Khabibulin, Roloson, Antero Niittymaki and Jason LaBarbera

If I'm feeling more adventurous, I may take a flier on Nashville's Pekka Rinne or highly-touted Blue Jackets prospect Steve Mason.

In the Experts League, a 12-team league in which teams have room to get 164 starts between the pipes, owns Brodeur and, before the official word came down on the severity of Brodeur's injury, he dropped his handcuff option Weekes in favour of Anaheim's Jonas Hiller

Not an ideal situation, but it shows the kind of dire straits that owners are left with when a first-round goaltender goes on the shelf.

Both the Devils and Fantasy owners should know that the only hope in salvaging this situation is to look for a trade and hope that Brodeur comes back as soon as possible.

Scott Cullen can be reached at

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