Devils could be left with whopping five-hole

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (left) shakes hands with Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur after...

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (left) shakes hands with Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final at the Stapes Center in Los Angeles, Calif., June 11, 2012. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

TORONTO - The day had to come when general manager Lou Lamoriello would rub Martin Brodeurís name off his whiteboard depth chart.

But whether it happens on Sunday or some time later in July, the Devils are woefully unprepared for it as of now.

It might be true that Lamoriello did Brodeur a favour by whispering Ďitís a good time to goí before the Devilsí financial situation became messy. But that doesnít get around the hole in goal if he leaves, with no NHL-proven stopper to take the future Hall of Famerís place.

Johan Hedberg would have been ready to step in at any time the past two years but heís an unrestricted free agent on Sunday, too. Then it could be down to farmhands Keith Kincaid, who played the most games for Albany, the Devils farm club, this year (17-20-3 .904 save percentage), and Jeff Frazee. Kinkaid was a college star who signed an entry-level deal last year. Frazee has been around since being chosen 38th overall in the 2005 draft.

On the horizon is Scott Wedgewood, a third-rounder from 2010, just wrapping up his OHL junior career in Plymouth. If Hedberg canít be talked back, thereís always UFA Scott Clemmensen, who won 25 of 40 starts for New Jersey when Brodeur hurt his arm a few years ago. But Clemmensen has already had Peter DeBoer as a coach in Florida and it didnít seem to be a good fit.

If money is a problem in Newark, it would make little sense for the Devils to get in on the Roberto Luongo bidding, but they might join the lineup for displaced Kings backup Jonathan Bernier.

As for Brodeur going to a Western Conference team, especially a mountain or coastal outfit, there is the risk in shuttling a 40-year-old used to easy divisional travel between two or three time zones. But Brodeur likely will be scaling back his appearances wherever he goes. Playing in Chicago, with Corey Crawford, would be an ideal set-up.

Lamoriello has a better chance of getting back forward Zach Parise today, if some cap space comes open. But a week ago, the lure of Pittsburgh, Minnesota and some other locales was not as strong for Parise, a seven-year Devil.

PLAYOFF BLACKOUT

If thereís one concern of paying Paul Gaustad $13 million US over four years, itís his single playoff goal in 48 post-season games. Nonetheless the burly Gaustad declared the Nashville Predators were solid Stanley Cup contenders when he re-signed on Saturday afternoon, taking one of the burliest forwards off the market.

Gaustadís departure makes Olli Jokinen more attractive to other teams. But Jokinen has even deeper playoff demons, just six post-season games played in 1,042 NHL regular contests.

Nashville GM David Poile, meanwhile, now turns his attention to a bigger fish, all-star defenceman Ryan Suter. While heís destined to test the open market, the Preds believe they are still major contenders.

ďBoth parties have stated their case and fondness of each other,Ē Poile told the Tennessean. ďStarting (Sunday) in the next couple of days, thereís going to be a marriage or a separation.

ďRyan has told me (a lot of) times itís not about the money, and I feel heís going to be compensated very well with us or anywhere else. I donít think weíre going to be losing out on Ryan Suterís decision based on money. Thatís what he has told me and I firmly believed (that) by what I would be prepared to put forth in an offer.Ē

ICE CHIPS

Rick Nash (remember him?) is still being offered in trades by Columbus and now the Flyers are said to be players, as well as Ottawa ó if the Sens donít get Parise. Missing out on Justin Schultz had whetted GM Bryan Murrayís appetite to make a deal ... If Anaheim is moving forward Bobby Ryan, theyíll want a defenceman back after losing Schultz ... Tampa Bay became a late Schultz suitor, but too late ... Pittsburgh, a team bumped around by the Rangersí Brandon Prust, has some interest in him ... Nine-year Sabres forward Jochen Hecht appears done in Buffalo ... Goalie Ondrej Pavelecís re-signing with the Jets was a blow to ex-Leaf Jonas Gustavssonís chances to sign there. With 36-year-old Chris Mason possibly returning as the primary backup, Gustavsson likely goes back in the UFA pool Sunday ... Has it really been a full year since the big story was whether Brad Richards would end up in Toronto or New York? When Richards chose the Rangers, Brian Burke wasnít just out a No. 1 centre, he got flak for monitoring events from Afghanistan where heíd made a secret flight to visit troops on Canada Day. But Burke was one of the first to congratulate mentor Pat Quinn on Saturday on being named to the Order of Canada ... Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau defends boss Bob Murrayís handling of the Schultz talks before he flew the pond. ďBob did absolutely everything right and everything in his power,Ē Boudreau told the Orange County Register. ďThe Ducks did everything that they could for him. So thatís disappointing.Ē ... The Islanders, badly needing veterans on defence, are looking next door at Bryce Salvador of the Devils and to a lesser extent, Steve Eminger of the Rangers.


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