In Need of a Number One Goaltender

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Brodeur An Option?

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 12: Goalie Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils during a break in a hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Prudential Center on November 12, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

I read a piece that Lyle Richardson had written for The Hockey News last week regarding the possibility of the New Jersey Devils dealing legend Martin Brodeur.

Richardson suggested the Washington Capitals may have interest in Brodeur, but my first thought was about the Lightning.

Once thought an impossibility, there are a few factors that could make moving Brodeur seem like a feasible option for New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello.

The current state of the Devils - they’re the second worst team in the Eastern Conference, 10 points out of the last playoff spot – and the mess that the Ilya Kovalchuk contract has created with the Devils’ salary structure, such talk is no longer so easily dismissed as nonsense.  Plus, Brodeur will turn 39 years old during the upcoming postseason.

Dumping Brodeur’s salary for a hand full of young, affordably-priced players  – the kind of move the Atlanta Thrashers made when they dealt Kovalchuk to the Devils for defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Niclas Bergfors, and prospect Patrice Cormier – could be the exact strategy Lamoriello will be looking to employ.

Brodeur is signed through next season at $5.2 million per year.  While nothing will happen in the near future - he is currently on the shelf indefinitely with a right elbow injury – the possibility remains that he will be auctioned off to the top bidder if he’s healthy at the trade deadline.

Yzerman’s interest will be directly linked to how well the Bolts are playing at that time.

Bolts’ Salary Structure for 2011-12

According to CapGeek and based on the cap remaining the same, the club has roughly $22 million in cap space with 12 players already signed for next year.

And if Yzerman feels that it would be in Tampa Bay’s best interests, he could get involved if Brodeur becomes available.

Yzerman has the cap space this year, but much will depend on how much will be needed to get pending restricted free agent Steven Stamkos re-signed.

In addition to Stamkos, Tampa Bay will also have forwards Teddy Purcell (RFA), Nate Thompson (RFA), Sean Bergenheim (UFA), and Adam Hall (UFA), as well as defenseman Mike Lundin (RFA) as their most pressing contract issues.

Out of this group, Purcell ($750,000) and Thompson ($625,000) stand to see the biggest impact.  Purcell is tied for third in team scoring and Thompson is getting more responsibilities and increased ice time as he continues to play better.

Simon Gagne will be an UFA next year.  It remains to be seen if Tampa Bay has interest in him past this season but if he is allowed to walk, Brodeur’s salary would be offset by Gagne’s $5.25 million.

There could be other options by the deadline, depending on which teams are buyers or sellers.  But one thing is for certain – the Lightning need at least one of their current goaltenders to step up and consistently play like a number one.

Smith is scheduled to start tonight against a Bruins club he beat 3-1 a little over a week ago.  And there is no time like the present for Smith to make his mark.

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You can follow David on Twitter, his ID is @PhilaDAVEia, and you can also add him as a friend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/davidstrehle.

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Tags: Dan Ellis Guy Boucher Ilya Kovalchuk Martin Brodeur Mike Smith National Hockey League NHL Simon Gagne Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning

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