Brodeur had a good year when he was healthy, posting 13 wins and a 2.22 goals-against average in 29 starts.
Still, I think the key word here is "necessarily." Will Brodeur feel the same way after he makes 65 starts next year? Who knows. Starting 29 games for Brodeur is like a tuneup, and he should be feeling refreshed.
I know Devils fans are trying to cling to Brodeur for so many reasons. The Devils haven't had goaltending uncertainty in more than 20 years, and having Brodeur in net is comforting. But Marty will be 41 on May 6, and he's missed extended time due to injury in four of the last five seasons.
I'm rooting for him to play as long as he wants to, and I know I'm not alone in that regard. I just don't expect him to want to play beyond next season.
But what do I know?
Brodeur will play until he wants. That's really the bottom line. Lou's not kicking him out. DeBoer's not kicking him out. Jeff Frazee, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont have no say in when Brodeur decides to hang them up. That said, the erosion in his game is noticeable in spots. He can't go side to side like he used, which is to expected for a soon-to-be-41-year old. His reaction time is also a tad slower, which, when combined with the Devils' poor defensive zone coverage this season, has led to some bad goals. The truth is that unless Marty recognizes that, there's a real chance the Devils might be stuck playing an aging superstar past his usefulness. I'm not saying it's a definite, but it'd be foolish to not consider the possibility.
That's the bad news. Now, the good news, which is that Marty is still a better netminder than the league average. He keeps the Devils in games they have no business being in at times and still has the smarts and enough ability to make stops and saves he has no business making (in stretches). He's clearly better than Johan Hedberg and, for now, better than the plethora of middling goalie prospects floating around the system. The question is whether the Devils can strengthen their defense to the point where he can be good enough to keep the Devils from being nothing more than league average. One of the big moves Lou will have to make this offseason is adding speed, toughness and a little offensive skill to the back end. Whether that comes from within or free agency, it's an absolute must.