New Jersey Devils 2011-12 Season Preview Part 3: The Goaltenders

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 06: Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils makes the second period save against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center on April 6, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

There's been an ongoing theme during this week's season previews so far. On Monday, Tom discussed the forwards and the long awaited youth movement that must happen with the departures of Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rolston, and Jason Arnott. Kevin had the defensemen yesterday - where depth is certainly a strong point with the emergence of young players like Matt Taormina, Matthew Corrente, and Mark Fayne along with rookie first round draftee Adam Larsson. This is going to be younger team compared to last season and you can thank last season's injury problems which showed there's a ton of potential in the Devils system.

But when it comes to goaltending, youth is going to have a wait a year or two. When you think New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur is sure to be one of the top thoughts to follow. Goaltending has been the most stable position for the Devils since the Spring of 1994. The only question mark each season was who was going to back up Marty (and play 5 to maybe 10 games a season). Fans are used to him playing 70-75 games per season and that may continue to be the norm until he retires.

Yet Marty's backup(s) have been more involved in two of the past three seasons becuase of injuries and whatnot. We all remember Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes who took to the net when Brodeur suffered his first major injury of his career (torn left biceps tendon) in 2008-2009. Marty suffered a couple bumps and bruises last season, yet newly acquired and current Devil Johan Hedberg took his role and played fairly well to outstanding at times (as long as he was close to his net). Yet just becuase there isn't a youth movement across the top two spots in New Jersey, doesn't mean there wasn't one in the organization at this position.

After the jump, we'll look at who returns, who's gone, and who's new; a look at last seasons stats, and some possibly bold predictions for the New Jersey Devils 2011-2012 Regular Season.

Who's Gone

Year Player GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Mike McKenna
2 118 0 1 0 6 3.05 56
50
.893 0

 

 

McKenna didn't have a good season last year - in the NHL or the AHL. He was on the second half of a two year, two-way contract at the NHL minimum. He started one contest against his hometown St. Louis Blues and gave up three goals; and came into relief about two minutes into a game against Montreal for Hedberg and gave up three goals as well. He dressed as a back up for a handful of games when Brodeur was resting his injuries. You can't give him all the blame, John MacLean was still head coach and the team in front of him was brutal.

In Albany, he played in 39 games for a 14-20-2 record with a .886 save% and a 3.61 GAA. I don't think any Devils fan will miss him. He was here for depth and for the AHL club. With all the injuries last season, he was lucky he got two stints in the NHL. He signed a one year, two-way deal with the Ottawa Senators organization and he'll most likely be in Binghamton. 

Who's Back

Year Player GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Jeff Frazee - AHL
33
1842 11
15 3
89
2.90 908
819
.902 2

 

 

 

Frazee is a Devils 2nd round draftee from 2005, though his time in the Devils organization since the 2008-2009 season has been rough. His save % has dropped and his GAA has increased every season in the AHL. He has not seen any NHL action yet (though he did dress as a backup last season for a couple games). Nagging injuries also don't help, as he's only played in 64 games in the past two seasons. Last season he had knee surgery and is now 15th on In Lou We Trust's Top 20 Prospect List. He was given a qualifying offer this off-season and a signed a two year, two-way contract at the NHL league minimum ($525k).

The Devils drafted two goalies in 2010 who aren't quite ready yet and signed an undrafted free agent this summer which means there is plenty of competition to throw him to the curb after this contract is over. This signing was for depth, and he's likely going to be the starter for Albany. Unless he really shines in the AHL the next two seasons and/or gets an opportunity to play in the NHL and plays great to really great, this may be the last contract he signs with New Jersey. At 28, he's really got to prove himself and show the Devils and the fans that he can perform better than these up and coming goalies in the system in the future.

Year Player GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Martin Brodeur
56
3116
23
26
3
127
2.45
1313
1186
.903
6

 

 

 

Just like the Devils, the Future Hall of Famer is looking for a bounce back season. John did his yearly look at the goals allowed against Brodeur, which I recommend reading if you haven't already.  He calculated that he gave up 21 soft goals which was a 4.3% decrease compared to 2009-2010.  In terms of where he led up goals, he may be getting a little slow with the glove. There were a lot of mistakes in front of him that led to goals as well, but with a better and more depth defense this season for the Devils, that should decrease. Overall, it's not a stretch to expect Marty to be Marty next season..right?

Well, he will turn 40 this season. Age is just a number, but 40 is old for hockey and even older for a goalie. Marty is only the 34th goalie to play over the age of 38. As I noted above, he had some injuries last season (bruised elbow, bruised knee) but nothing long term that should linger into this season. I can't say injuries are going to bother him this season, but at his age - it's something us fans should keep in the back of our minds. Currently, he's nursing a hamstring and he's resting for now. Calm down..have some dip. He's the number 1, the A - and the greatest goalie in the history of hockey has always surprised the NHL and the media with what he's capable of year in and year out. This position is stable for one more year at least. There is one thing I would keep an eye on - Marty played more of a butterfly style in the second half of the season and his numbers slightly improved. I'd wonder if he'll continue that or not.

This is also his last season under contract (6 year, $31.2 million at a $5.2 million cap hit), and Marty's future with the team is uncertain. He's going to play out the season, assess his career and his life then take it from there. If he wants to come back, he's not going anywhere and I doubt Lou would let him go in which would cause Marty to go somewhere else. If he does come back, the consensus is he's getting a pay-cut. He took a big pay-cut after the lockout to give the team more cap room, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he does the same on a more extreme level for one last run and one more try for another Cup.

Year Player GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Johan Hedberg
34
1717
15
12
2
68
2.38
777
709
.912
3

 

 

 

Devils fans will have one more year of yelling (or typing if you're a common gamethreader) MOOOOSE at games and at their TV's. He showed last year that he's a solid back up and can come in and play up to par with Marty when needed. He had a great hot streak last season, yet also had some blunders (stay in the damn net Moose). He was offered more money to play elsewhere, but decided to stay in New Jersey with a slight cap hit cut (though technically a pay raise since he was given bonuses options last seasons). He'll make $1.25 million this season and has a no-trade clause.

You can see that his save % and his GAA was slightly better than Marty's, but that doesn't mean he's going to take away the starting job or even share it. He had a higher percentage of soft goals (over 25%) than Marty and it seems he has a five hole problem (22% of goals against were low middle). He's up there in age too (he'll turn 39 this season) though he hasn't had any significant injuries since 2004. He's comfortable here, other Devils players and coaches appreciate his hard work put into practice, and fans were welcoming when he was re-signed (save for the salary cap part, but that's a non-issue now). He's the back up and he knows that - the fact that he wanted to stay here tells me he's fine with this.

Who's New

Year Player GP MIN W L T GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Keith Kinkaid - NCAA(ECAC) 38
2265
25
10
3
75
1.99
942
867 .920
3

 

 

 

This signing was sort of a surprise to Devils fans and to some Union College fans and ECAC enthusiasts. The undrafted free agent sophomore goalie from Long Island decided to skip his last two years of school and college eligibility to go pro (another link on the signing). He was getting a lot of attention from a number of NHL teams after winning some notable awards after this season. His entry level deal has a NHL cap hit of $900k for two seasons. Tom did a Prospect Profile on him with some great information.  His strengths are rebound control and resiliency whereas he may have trouble with stick-handling and coming out of the net. He's 14th on In Lou We Trust's Top 20 Prospect List.

For right now, he's the back up in Albany (which isn't too far from Union College so he's comfortable with the area). If he has a great camp and develops at a fast rate during the regular season, he may even steal the job from Frazee. He's still young and has plenty of time to develop and get used to playing against professionals so there's no rushing him. Frazee is injury prone thus Kinkaid may see some significant time at the helm anyway.

Year Player GP MIN W L T GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11 Maxime Clermont - QMJHL
48
2659
28
10
5
113
2.55
1090
977 .896
4

 

 

 

Clermont signed a three year entry level contract in early August with a cap hit of $560k. He had a solid regular season and the Olympiques had an incredible playoff run due to him. A .927 save % in the highly offensive Q during the playoffs is really amazing. Lou wanted five goalies signed just in case of injuries, and he's the perfect player for the job. Signs point to him going back to juniors (either to his old club Gatineau Olympiques or somewhere else) after training camp as an over age player. He's eligible to be called away from his junior team to Albany and back. If injuries occur (sorry that I keep bringing you up Frazee), he may see a few games in Albany this season. The 6th round draft pick from the 2010 draft is 20th on the ILWT's Top Prospects List.

Unsigned

Year Player GP MIN W L T GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010-11  Scott Wedgewood - OHL
55
3046
28
18
2
152
2.99
1652
1500
.908
2

 

 

 

The 3rd round draft pick in 2010 still has one more year of juniors before being eligible to play in the minors. Still though, he's the top goalie prospect in the Devils organization (7th on ILWT's Top Prospect List). Tom also did a Prospect Profile on him (it also brings up a particular 70 save performance that you may remember). He's considered a hybrid goalie and is getting used to a heavy workload (55 games is a lot for a kid). This was a first year being the number one option and his numbers tell the story. We won't be seeing him in New Jersey or Albany this season, but keep an eye out for him becuase we'll be sure to see him in the future.

Conclusion

The goaltending situation is pretty clear cut. Marty and Moose will be in the NHL and Frazee and Kinkaid will be in Albany. Clermont will be an emergency call-up and play in one of the major junior leagues when not needed.  I would expect Marty to play about 60 to 65 games with Moose picking up the rest. I feel Marty's workload should be monitored by not giving him to many back to backs. Hedberg showed he can play outstanding at times and the Devils should use him appropriately and take advantage of their back up. I expect this team to play beyond the regular season and I would want Marty to be as fresh as he can be in April.

As for Albany. I would expect to see Frazee start as Kinkaid will need some time to adjust to the professional landscape. Overtime I think Kinkaid will receive more playing time and eventually take the job from Frazee. I also feel if Marty or Moose get injured and someone needs to be called up, the Devils may give Kinkaid a try before Frazee. He has more potential and may benefit more from practicing in New Jersey to help his development. I don't think Frazee will be re-signed whereas Kinkaid may be with the Devils long term as an AHL starter or even a NHL back up. He should get used to playing games in the minors, traveling down to Jersey for practice and/or dressing as a back up.

As for you, what do you expect from the goalies this year? Will Marty bounce back? Will Hedberg be a solid backup like last year? What do you think about the young guys and AHLer Jeff Frazee? Let us know in the comments.

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