Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Now that Martin Brodeur is out for a large chunk of the season, a few things are sure. Terry Sawchuck's career shutout record is safe for a bit longer, and there are many questions in New Jersey, both in a hockey sense, and a fantasy sense.
Can the team compete for a playoff spot without Brodeur? Can they at least 'hang in there' until he returns? Can Kevin Weekes step up and play every night, something he has never done? Do the Devils have the pieces to go make a move for a goaltender? How does this affect the value of the skaters in front of the Devils net?
A lot of these questions will need some time to be answered, but one thing is known right now, everything is different without Brodeur between the pipes in New Jersey.
The biggest hit that will be seen in New Jersey is the collective and individual plus-minus rating of the entire team. These numbers will all fall because they won't have the safety net of Brodeur behind them to bail them out of some mistakes that they are use to getting away with when the future Hall- of-Famer is back there.
Also, New Jersey will need to open things up more in their offensive game since, now they will be giving up more goals per game. When you give up more goals, you need to score more goals, something New Jersey was having trouble doing anyway, so the only answer they have is to take more chances, which inevitably comes back to haunt you at times.
Your best bet is to try and unload, not only any Devils defenseman you can, but any Devils skater you can, now before their price shrinks too much. They will all take a regression in quite a few areas because of this and your best bet is to try and minimize the hit by dealing them sooner rather than later.
One positive that can be drawn from this is that the penalty minutes of many Devils should go up. The reason for this is because as pressure increases in their defensive zone, and without Marty's world-class stick handling skills to bail them out, they will be forced to take more penalties to help end the pressure. So that's a plus there. Maybe the only one.
Now, for those of you out there thinking that the Devils will just go out and acquire a goalie to step in for Brodeur I have this to say: I highly, highly doubt they will. There will be no Nikolai Khabibulin-type wearing a Devils sweater at The Rock this year. I just can't see the Devils going out and parting with what they'd need to get a guy like that when, let's face it, they weren't a Cup contender in the first place, and whatever goaltender they did bring in would only be keeping the seat warm for Marty when he comes back.
It would be a steep price to pay with very little upside, so I'd assume the majority of the goaltending duties will fall to Kevin Weekes and Scott Clemmensen.
Unfortunately, for the Devils they don't even have anyone in their system that they could bring up and tryout until Brodeur is healthy, as goalie is one of their weakest positions in the minors.
Bottom line is this, avoid this situation at all costs. There is nothing to be gained fantasy-wise by delving into this mess in any way, shape or form. Just steer clear.