In Saturday's Devils in the Details post, I ended the list of links with an open question. I also asked this on Twitter under @InLouWeTrust on Friday night:
I had this on my mind given that I found that Martin Brodeur just continuing to play in the NHL puts him in a small group of players in the history of the league. Brodeur's in the final year of his contract. Since he's 39 and not many goaltenders continue to play into their 40s, it's up in the air as to whether he would return. I don't think he has anything left to prove and if he wants to call it career, then I would be fine with that. Of course, Brodeur may want to return, which is also understandable.
Whether the Devils should bring him back and for how much will hinge on several factors. Brodeur will perform will be one factor. A second factor will be his health, whether he can avoid injuries and handle the workload that comes with being a NHL goaltender. A third factor will be the team's depth at goaltender; whether Brodeur is a better option than anyone else in the system. A fourth factor will be the team's financial situation - the salary cap and actual funds - as to whether Brodeur will fit in their plans. There are several other factors, and it all underscores that the question won't be answered until the summer of 2012.
As for comparable situations, two players came to mind: Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne. Both returned for their respective teams for more than respectable salaries: $6.2 million for Lidstrom and $4 million for Selanne. I'm not saying they don't deserve it; but that both could be some indication of what kind of salary to expect for Brodeur should he want and get a new deal with New Jersey after this season. Or maybe not, given that Brodeur plays a different position, Brodeur deferred money in his current contract back when it could still be done, and that Brodeur sees himself as a company man for the Devils. After all, Brodeur doesn't even have an agent. It's possible he could take less money.
Anyway, I asked the above question and after the jump, here are some the responses I've received.
3MM. That’s top end. If his performance shows any erosion, I wouldn’t sign him for the veterans’ minimum.
40 yo goaltenders (even future HOFers) are extreme injury/collapse risks and finding capable goaltending talent isn’t very difficult these days.
That latter point is crucial. It's going to be nigh-impossible to find a goaltender like Martin Brodeur, but it's pretty easy to get an average goalie. Moving on, user dkball7 included a performance requirement in his answer:
Assuming he rebounds a bit to a .910 – .915 save %, I’d give him 2.5 for 1 year.
Given that Brodeur makes $5.2 million right now, that would be a little under half of his current salary. Would that be sufficient? Maybe. That would depend on how highly you value 91.0-91.5%. In any case, dkball7's offer turned out to be the lowest of any named figures. User HockeyWeasel offered a smaller paycut.
If his performance this season is what the team is hoping for, then I’d offer him $4.5-$5MM for one additional season. If he wanted more than one season, I’d go considerably less, but for one season, I’d be willing to make the gamble that he’d be able to play to what the team expects from him.
Not to spoil the rest, but his answer involving $4.5-5 million is actually the highest one given out of all responses. I don't think Brodeur would mind a cut of $200-700k, regardless of what happens. User KovyisLove wouldn't be as generous and highlights the benefit of offering such a cut.
Paying Marty 3 mil to perform at a top 15 goalie level would be amazing. Another 3 mil player that could be added to the payroll can definitely make a difference.
It would be amazing, but I wouldn't hold my breath. I think all of the responses with a lower salary have that in mind. An extra million or two in cap space is not insignificant under the current CBA or likely in the impending new CBA after the summer of 2012. User Sonic Joe has the same idea, except he'd offer a two year deal:
2years, 3 mil avg.
4 mil, than 2 mil
I base this on the fact that we probably need him for at least 1 more year as starter, and then another year as backup/mentor for his replacement.
That's an interesting thought process, and not at all unreasonable. In the system, the Devils have Jeff Frazee, who may be an AHLer at best; Keith Kinkaid who just got his first professional contract; and two goalies in junior: Maxime Clermont and Scott Wedgewood. Throw in the fact that the current backup goalie is 38 and it's a stretch to think the Devils can move on from within at this point. Keeping Brodeur around may be the smart play, as the offer reflects that while freeing up more cap space.
Of all of the responses, user dr(d)evil had the most reasoned response and so should be read in full. He came up with $2.5-3.5 million; though he'd go as high as $4 million if Brodeur does really well. What's particulary insightful is how he brought up the only 40+ goalie in the league, Dwayne Roloson, as a comparison:
The only comparable for age and performance is Dwayne Roloson, who signed a two-year contract for $2.5M a year at the age of 39. His spectacular play this past season actually earned him a pay hike to $3.5M for one year. Roloson’s price has always been determined by the free market, and I think Marty’s performance sits somewhere in between where Roloson was 2 yrs ago (a good co-starter or an excellent backup) and where he is now (an excellent starter that comes with a lot of risk of decline/injury).
I would keep an eye on Roloson's performance as well as Brodeur's to get an idea on how much Brodeur could command. While Brodeur is certainly more accomplished than Roloson, would that really lead to a higher price? I'm not so sure. User acasser would go a little higher, but only for a one-year contract:
I don’t give a multi-year deal to Brodeur under any circumstances. His age and recent injury history worry me a little bit…. combine that with the 35+ rules on contracts as they currently are enforced and there’s some dangerous terrain out there. I would go year-to-year on him, and I’d probably pay him a little more than "fair market value" as long as his cap number doesn’t handicap the Devils to any major extent.
There’s a gun to my head and I have to come up with a number now? One year at $4 million. It’s more than he’d get on the open market, but it’s also less than he makes now. The team gets more cap room, and it’s a bit of a "thank you" for years of service at a smaller number than he could have gotten.
That would cut $1.2 million from Brodeur's current cap hit; which can be worth two cheap players or one somewhat cheap player. Again, it's not insignificant savings.
Across several comments, the common figure offered seems to be $3-4 million. At least it did to user FrankG929, who decided to go with "consensus" on this question:
Hard to speculate now. Though I’d agree with the general consensus of $3-4M. High end if he plays very good, low end if he’s just above average (I’m not expecting anything less from him!!) 0 if the Devils win the Cup because he’ll retire on top.
Lastly, I only got one reply via Twitter. That's probably because I decided to ask this on Friday night as opposed to, say, another weekday or a more amenable time. Still, I got one response in advance of this question appearing in Saturday's link post. Alamoth's answer turned out to be somewhat common.
$3-$4M depending on how he rebounds from last season.
And so there we have it. From the comments and the one tweet; you all don't think Brodeur should come back without some kind of cut in pay. It's entirely possible to believe and expect that. Again, most goalies don't play past 40 and those who do usually aren't so dominant to command over $5 million. Many of you - correctly - pointed out that it's going to depend on how he does in this coming season. At least we can use this revisit the matter, assuming Brodeur wants to return, after the season.
How about those of you who didn't see or respond to the question. What would you offer Brodeur if he wanted to return to New Jersey for one more season, and why? Also, I want to know what do you thought about this kind of post. Would you like to see more of these in the future? Please leave your answers and thoughts in the comments. Thanks to all those who answered the question both here and on Twitter (I sure won't be asking these on Friday night in the future); and thank you for reading.