More and more, we're hearing about Marty might want to go to another team to get more starts. The latest round of interviews shows that he's been more willing to go to another team than he was at the beginning of the season, even to the point where he sounds less certain that he would not be the one to push for a trade, but rather Lou be the one to approach him about it. I feel like he's hoping he gets traded without having to ask for it just to avoid the awkward situation, but it seems clear his heart is set on playing more.
Which makes sense. It really seems unfathomable that he'd ever leave, but if he did, it wouldn't change all that he's done for the organization. People can argue the merits of how to end one's career- namely, retiring on top; either at their game before it goes south (not really an option anymore considering his age and his declining play) or after winning a Cup (probably what everyone wants for him, but might not be in the cards with the Devils this season). Every single Devils fan would also like to see him retire as a Devil. Whether or not you think it would tarnish his Devils reputation if he left, it's still a possibility that we have to consider, and we can look at now.
The thing is, does he really have that many options to play more games with any other team that would trade for him? It's clearer how much more they're going to lean on Schneider, but he's still going to get starts. Corey's perhaps been able to stay fresh because of the rotation which might have actually helped him, but both have said how getting into a rhythm is so important. But with the push for the playoffs and the fact that Marty actually has played well a few games, he's still likely needed if Schneider drops off at all or if Corey gets outright injured. They only have Kinkaid in the pipeline behind these two should something happen. No matter how next season shakes out for the position overall, I feel Marty is still needed for this playoff push. It's also probably not going to be clear enough whether the Devils will make the playoffs by the trade deadline, maybe clouding the decision to trade a viable option in net should they still need him.
Regardless, let's just say it all goes to hell, or Marty still wants to be traded just to get work somewhere else. Would any other goalie situation in the NHL allow for the acquisition? Exactly what would Marty want to accept to waive his NTC for- a possibility for more games, better chance to win in the playoffs? Furthermore, his contract is up after this season, and although he seems to want to play next season, could he really be more than a deadline rental for any team, therefore making him only part of a rental situation trade? Would it be worth it for any team to do this?
Scott Cullen at TSN just published an article detailing the G siutuaish for every team (http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=442498).
Based on that, let's look at the options:
ANA: A team known for being loaded at G. Hiller is solid, they have Fasth coming back, plus young options Anderson and Gibson. A 41 year-old doesn't really fit here.
BOS: Rask. Here, Marty's no better off with games played as a backup, but a better shot at the Cup.
BUF: Not making the playoffs, plus there is speculation Miller might actually stay. Backup status at best. Even if Miller leaves, what's the point to leave the Devils by now for this?
CAL: A mess at goal, but not a playoff team. Yes, Marty would probably play every single game to the end of the season, but does it matter? Even if he considered signing there for next season, it wouldn't help anybody.
CAR: Not much of a better shot at the postseason than the Devils, plus options between Ward, Peters, and who they think will be the long-term option in Khudobin. Marty wouldn't really outrank anybody based on play.
CHI: Crawford. A young Raanta as backup. Only role is to supplement Crawford- might be a good fit for a veteran, but Marty wouldn't play more or even as much as him.
COL: Varlamov. Giguere only gets spot starts, no need to split starter with anybody.
CLS: Bobrovsky is coming around, and Columbus is 1 point up on the Devils right now. They'll lean on Bob to try to get them in. Backup status.
DAL: In a tough Division in the better Conference- not a playoff team. Lehtonen isn't the best, but can handle a tough workload well enough. Ellis is struggling as the backup, so at best Marty would still split time on a non-playoff team.
DET: The first interesting option. Howard got onto team USA, but is still struggling with play and injuries. Gustavsson doing ok, plus Mrazek behind him. They'll probably try to lean on Howard to get in a rhythm down the stretch as they should, so Marty would have to play better than Gustavsson to try to command time to split with Howard or to start outright if Howard gets injured yet again. They might be able to use a veteran G should they get into the playoffs, but a minefield to navigate if Brodeur just wants more playing time. They might not even make the playoffs, being only 2 points ahead of NJ right now. Tied for 2nd wild card spot.
EDM: Another mess at G, but another irrelevant situation. Marty's not a long-term option and EDM is 2nd-worst in the league. Sure, you'll play a lot, but...why?
FLA: Already have a declining 40-something, and not a playoff team. Marty doesn't make them better.
LA: Jonathan Quick. Martin Jones played really well when Quick was injured, now he'll get spot duty as LA really needs a strong finish to solidify a playoff spot. So again: Jonathan Quick.
MIN: Actually might have a chance to tear another piece out of the Devils' soul. Minny has a few, better teams to leapfrog into a bona fide playoff spot or needs to play well enough to keep a wild card spot. Harding has been phenomenal, but is having problems with his condition so it leaves room for playing time. Backstrom has been there for a while but is 35 and lost his job now to Harding. Kuemper is young but plays well, but Marty could be a fit for a veteran to play when Harding can't, IF they don't fully trust Kuemper yet or Backstrom just falls off. But if Harding can get stable again, the Wild ride him into the playoffs. Again, is there more time playing here than there is alongside Schneider?
MON: Not playing well right now, but doesn't seem like goaltending is really the problem. Price has good numbers and Budaj is a decent backup.
NSH: Another mess in goal right now, but there are too many better teams than the Preds for them to get a postseason spot. Considering their other issues, don't think they would care too much to get a player like Marty and will probably just have to wait until Rinne gets back. And when he does, he's the clear starter.
NYI: Starting to fall off in the bad Metropolitan division, the Devs right now 2nd-worst only to them. They certainly could use a goalie, but it likely isn't Marty. Nabokov is 38, they'll want to invest in wayyyy younger. Plus, Lou probably doesn't deal with a team this close to Newark, as with others.
OTT: I'm sure they'd really like to make a push, and Anderson really came back down to earth this season, but Lehner's having a decent start to his career. 3-goalie platoon at best for Marty.
PHO: Only hope is a wild card spot, and Mike Smith did just make team Canada, even though he's not fantastic. Greiss is a decent backup. An outside shot Marty could split with Smith.
PIT: What I actually consider Marty's best option. We know Fleury's story of play regular versus the post-season, to the point that they went out and got Tomas Vokoun, who actually played NHL minutes in the playoffs because they absolutely needed him to. Vokoun's out for the year, so they only have an unknown Jeff Zatkoff to step in when Fleury inevitably melts down in the postseason. However, Marty wouldn't necessary play more during the regular season. But the Pens knowing Fleury's track record in the playoffs might make them want to get an insurance policy, but keep the load on Fleury until he possibly starts to collapse again, then switch. I mean, if the best they could do in the past was Vokoun, Marty would certainly be at least a little better option. But this is a division rival and the Devs are still pushing for the playoffs. Nevertheless, there could be a fit.
SJS: Niemi and Stalock, good enough there.
STL: Leaning on Halak for the time being, have Elliot as a decent backup, already in talks possibly to upgrade to Ryan Miller.
TBL: Bishop's been having a great season, no reason to split time with someone else.
TOR: Bernier has the job, but if anything they would go back to Reimer if they had to at all.
VAN: Luongo playing well enough, Lack being a good backup.
WSH: The only other option, but based only on the goalie situation. Holtby was supposed to be the man and isn't right now as they make the push, Neuvirth basically lost the starting job when he had his chance, Grubauer the only other option at 22 years old. But Washington is directly in front of the Devils in the division by one point. It would take quite a tantrum from Marty to demand a trade to a team like this, and Lou wouldn't do it anyway.
WPG: Last in the Central Division, not making the playoffs, should be irrelevant that the goaltending is terrible.
As mentioned, Brodeur has said he's not going to ask for a trade (just yet at least), so it'd have to be on Lou if there was an option to make the team better. Would Lou actually do something without Marty asking for it? Knowing Lou, he'd probably explore anything that makes the team better, but wouldn't make a trade just for the sake of making a trade, even if it meant Marty could play more (but means the Devils not getting anything in return). I think at this point you have to listen to Brodeur and at least explore some possibilities to do right by him, but again don't trade him just to get a 7th rounder and appease the guy. They need to convince him to want to stay at least until the end of the year, and then make a decision. I still feel that the team plays with some confidence just knowing he's still back there, but he's not holding up when the team scores more than they do with Corey. Schneider has had a smaller room for error and is looking better. But Brodeur in his increasing spot duty is a valuable asset and you just can't go wrong with so much experience- you just need to rely on the guy that's on the upswing, not the downswing.
But there might not be a decision to be made, considering the few options Marty might actually have. It all depends on what he really wants right now, whether it just be playing time in general or a chance to make a serious run at the Cup. It will also depend on if a team has a major injury in net. As I said, Pittsburgh and Minny seem to be the few really viable options, but I'll admit I hope that Marty sees that he's still valuable here and just stays ready when called upon. Lou knows Marty's contribution to the organization, but has a personal loyalty to him, too. If Marty gets really unhappy, then Lou will probably have to take a look. But it might just come as a relief that there just isn't really a team with a situation that would really allow for Marty to come in and reclaim a #1 role that's in any better a spot than the Devils are to get into the playoffs.
*Also of note: I think Marty still has that agent he signed with before his last contract. So it might depend on what his agent tells him about playing opportunities elsewhere, as opposed to acting as his own agent like he's done for most of his career.