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Hartnett: Brodeur Ready To Test Free Agent Waters

Brodeur To Become UFA If Deal Isn't Reached By Noon Sunday, Teams Lining Up
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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‘Devils In The Details’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Since winning the number one job over Chris Terreri ahead of the 1994 playoffs, iconic goaltender Martin Brodeur has become synonymous with the winning traditions of the New Jersey Devils.

To picture him wearing a jersey without the Devils’ insignia across his chest was a sacrilegious thought. Until now, as he’s prepared to test free agency as negotiations with the Devils have stalled ahead of Sunday’s noon deadline.

Brodeur hired mega-agent Pat Brisson on Friday. Brisson represents superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, Danny Briere and the Sedin twins. Normally, an athlete hiring an agent isn’t big news, but Brodeur hasn’t had an agent for 15 years and has negotiated contracts on his own behalf since 1997.

Brisson told TSN Canada on Friday, “It looks like he might be testing free agency on Sunday if a deal isn’t reached by Sunday with the Devils.”

After being eliminated by the Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, Brodeur poured cold water on the possibility of finding a new home at 40.

“I don’t see myself at all doing that,” Brodeur said after Game 7. “But again, I think circumstances is out of my hands. You never know, I guess. I don’t want to. It definitely would have to be something really weird that I’m going to do that.”

Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello previously stated, “Marty will be a Devil as long as he wants to be. I don’t think there’s ever something he and I have trouble with. I don’t want to see him put on any other uniform. I don’t think he wants to.”

In a strange twist, Brodeur is ready to test the open market should he not come to an agreement with the Devils before noon Sunday.  Brodeur is yet to reach unrestricted free agency in his career, but the Devils’ financial issues and prioritized negotiations with Zach Parise means there is a significant chance Brodeur will become a UFA on July 1.

Last season, Brodeur made $5.2 million dollars and could be set to earn a similar salary in 2012-13 after unexpectedly leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The 2012 free agent goalie class is extremely thin and without any number one quality goalies outside of Brodeur. Having Brodeur on the open market would trigger a frenzy of bidders looking to pry him away from the Devils.

Instead of trading for outspoken 38-year-old Tim Thomas or meeting the Vancouver Canucks’ steep demands for Roberto Luongo, Brodeur would be a wise short-term alternative for many teams.

The Florida Panthers are currently frontrunners to land Luongo.  They could turn to Brodeur should Canucks’ General Manager Mike Gillis refuses to lower his demands.  Florida is looking for an upgrade over veteran Jose Theodore.

The Chicago Blackhawks would be an ideal fit for Brodeur.  Corey Crawford took a large step back in 2011-12 and Ray Emery was very inconsistent over 34 appearances. Brodeur would give a very strong Blackhawks team their missing piece — a dominant number one, playoff proven goalie.

Another contender who could use Brodeur’s playoff expertise is the San Jose Sharks. Antti Niemi is certainly a solid net-minder, but the Sharks have a long history of failing to live up to playoff expectations.  Having Brodeur between the pipes could finally be what the Sharks need to reach the finals.

The Toronto Maple Leafs desperately need a clear-cut number one goalie after two seasons of mediocre play from 24-year-old James Reimer. Should Brodeur join the Maple Leafs, he would be branded as a ‘judas’ by Montreal Canadiens fans.

Brodeur grew up rooting for his hometown Canadiens and his father, Denis Brodeur was a famed photographer for the Habs for decades.

I can’t see this as a realistic possibility as the Maple Leafs aren’t built to win now and the Quebec native Brodeur would have to be very brave to pull on the Maple Leafs’ sweater.

On June 15, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators, but he’s hardly a proven goalie.  The Lightning have struggled to find consistency in net and Brodeur would give them the solidity they’re lacking.

Should Brodeur become a UFA on July 1, there will be no shortage of teams vying for his signature.  You never know who might get involved…

Will Brodeur remain with the Devils or can you picture him wearing another uniform next season?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.