When Martin Brodeur went down, a lot of people wrote off the Devils’ season.
Luckily, goalie Scott Clemmensen stepped-up and won 25 games, not only keeping the Devils in the playoffs, but giving them the lead in the Atlantic.
And now, with Brodeur ready to play again tonight, in what surely will be remembered as one of hockey’s great classless acts, the Devils sent Clemmensen down to the AHL.
Clemmensen doesn’t have to clear waivers so there is a certain logic to the move. But the Devils have almost $2 million in cap space available. Clemmensen is just $500,000. And I don’t see the Devils making a big splash at the trade deadline (unless it’s to trade Clemmensen). So why not take a risk on the guy who saved your season? And more importantly, why risk alienating Clemmensen? If Brodeur can’t play as well as he seems to think he can after being on the shelf for so long, when Clemmensen is recalled, will he be able to play without remembering how he was treated?
Obviously, the Devils don’t see a future with Clemmensen, which is probably true to the extent that I’m still not sure Clemmensen is an NHL starting goalie. But Brodeur is getting older and he’s going to miss more games. The Devils need a backup who can play for weeks at a time, if/when Brodeur is injured again. They have that in Clemmensen and they’re just throwing it away.
It’s a strange move, both from a hockey sense and a people sense.
Brodeur had better be sharp tonight. Otherwise, the Devils success in the playoffs falls squarely on the shoulders of backup goalie Kevin Weekes, ostensibly the Devils backup backup goalie.
Speaking of goalies and contracts, the Wild continue to try and get something done with Niklas Backstrom. If the Wild think a contract isn’t doable, they’re going to try and trade him at the deadline. If things seem close, they’ll keep him. But if the contract isn’t done before the deadline and the Wild don’t have him re-signed, Backstrom’s going to have a lot of leverage over the team. I suspect a contract will get done, though.
Otherwise, the Wild can always look into Clemmensen.