This is something that both the New Jersey Devils organization and its fans now worry about every single season when it comes to its franchise netminder, Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur, now 39 years of age, will be entering his 16th season in the National Hockey League, all with the Devils. He played in just 54 games last season due to an injury and definitely showed that he can still play well, even on a somewhat-weaker Devils team.
Last season, Brodeur finished with a 2.45 goals against average, a .903 save percentage and six shutouts. Unfortunately, none of those numbers led to a Devils playoff berth because of how poorly the team started out under head coach John MacLean, who had a rough transition from Jacques Lemaire. Also, those aren't Brodeur-like numbers for the future Hall of Famer who has a career 2.22 GAA and .913 save percentage.
While the Devils will definitely be better prepared this season under new head coach Peter Deboer, one has to wonder how many games Brodeur will play given that he is getting older and that playing between 65-75 games is something that he just cannot do anymore.
Obviously, Brodeur wants to play in every game but that is just not possible anymore. He has suffered injuries in two of the past three seasons after being a netminder that averaged over 70 games per year since 1998-99. Brodeur is entering the final year of his contract and it is well-known that, sooner or later, the Devils will have to find his replacement.
While it has been shown that netminders can play into their 40's, does Brodeur have enough juice left in the tank to make that happen? Can he prove to the league and its fans that he can still be the Brodeur that plays a lot of games, wins a lot of games, posts a ton of shutouts and finishes in the top 10 in every goaltending category?
We will all find out soon enough.
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