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Is Brodeur setting the bar beyond reach?

Wednesday, 03.18.2009 / 11:32 PM / Brodeur Watch

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Now that Martin Brodeur has the record for most career wins and is on the verge of getting a Wayne Gretzky-esque hold on the goaltending category of the record book, one obvious question comes to mind:
Who's got next?
 

We live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world and it's only natural to speculate.

There are no crystal balls here, no predictions for who may one day loosen Brodeur's inevitable stranglehold on the record book for goaltenders. Instead, we can offer analysis on which active goalies may have a chance to do so.

There aren't many, if any.

Records, as they say, are meant to be broken, but by the time Brodeur is done, it's likely he will have set the bar so high that it might not be possible for a currently active goalie to even come close to any of his records.

It very well could be some unknown kid we haven't heard of yet -- kind of like Martin Brodeur was back in the 1980s.

Here is a look at three significant records Brodeur either already has or is going after. You be the
judge on if anyone can beat him:

WINS

All-time leader: Martin Brodeur, 552

Active leaders:
1. Martin Brodeur, 552
2. Curtis Joseph, 452
3. Chris Osgood, 386
4. Olaf Kolzig, 303
5. Nikolai Khabibulin, 291


Judging by that list, Brodeur will own the record for years, if not generations to come, especially since he could easily add 100-150 wins to his already bulging total. You have to assume that as long as he stays healthy he's got at least three more good years left before he begins to tail off.

Scary, huh?

Since none of the four veterans that trail him have a chance at catching him, you have to look to the future.

Your first thought probably would go to a six-pack of All-Star caliber netminders, including Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (223 wins), Buffalo's Ryan Miller (141), the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (136), Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury (105), Montreal's second-year man Carey Price (44) and Columbus rookie Steve Mason (28), who idolized Brodeur growing up.

Luongo, who is 29, would need to average 35 wins per season over the next 10 seasons just to eclipse Patrick Roy's former record. Lundqvist, 27, would need to average 35 wins over the next 13 seasons to top Roy. Miller is staring at the prospect of winning more than 40 games a season until he's 40 to even have a remote chance.

He's obviously a long shot. Luongo and Lundqvist aren't exactly close, either.

So we go down the list even further. Fleury, Price and Mason are the intriguing possibilities because they're in their early 20s and already have experienced some success.

Fleury and Price are playing on teams that theoretically should be good for a long time. Mason would like to think so, but it's too soon to tell about the Blue Jackets.

Mason and Price are so new to the game, there's no "he must win this many games over this many seasons stat" on them. Price won 24 games last season as a 20-year-old rookie and figures to keep climbing as the years go on. Mason is 20 now and already had 28 wins entering Wednesday's game against Chicago.

Fleury, 24, entered this season, his fourth in the NHL, with 76 wins, including 40 in 2006-07. He would have come close to that number last season had he not missed more than two months with an ankle injury. If injuries continue to plague Fleury he'll have zero chance of coming close to Brodeur even though he plays with superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Check back with us in a decade to see if anyone is even in Brodeur's ballpark.

GAMES PLAYED

All-time leader: Patrick Roy, 1,029

Active leaders:
1. Martin Brodeur, 987 (2nd all time)
2. Curtis Joseph, 952
3. Olaf Kolzig, 719
4. Chris Osgood, 702
5. Nikolai Khabibulin, 667


Like the wins list, this one is very much open-ended because we just don't know when Brodeur is going to stop. You'd have to assume he'll have the record to himself by the middle of next season, so with that in mind, again, we can't even consider goalies like Osgood (age 36), Khabibulin (36), Joseph (41) and Kolzig (38).

So, again, we go down the list to the next group, which is led by Luongo.

The Canucks' captain entered this season with 490 games on his resume, including a Brodeur-esque average of 74 per season since 2003. If he stays healthy -- a big if considering he's a butterfly goalie and their hips and groins tend to break down over time -- there's no reason he shouldn't play around 70 games per season. If he does, Luongo could top Roy's mark of 1,029 games played when he's 37 years old.

Brodeur likely will pass Roy's record when he's 37, too. So, basically, Luongo is on Brodeur's pace.

The next active goalie under 30 that may have a chance is Lundqvist, who entered this season with 195 games played, including 71 per season since 2006. Lundqvist is three years younger than Luongo, so he's looking at another 12 or 13 years of healthy dominance to enter the Brodeur-Roy stratosphere.

Again, Price and Mason are just starting out, so if they develop into goalies who can sustain consistent success for a decade, then they've got a shot.

Fleury is a wild card in this. If healthy, he can be the Penguins' No. 1 for a long, long time, but he has never played in 70 games in a season.


MARTIN BRODEUR
GOALTENDER - NJD

WINS: 552 | SHUTOUTS: 100
GAMES PLAYED: 987 | GAA: 2.20


SHUTOUTS

All-time leader: Terry Sawchuk, 103

Active leaders:
1. Martin Brodeur, 100 (2nd all time)
2. Curtis Joseph, 51
3. Chris Osgood, 49
4. Evgeni Nabokov, 46
5. Roberto Luongo, 43


This may be the record that never gets touched. Then again, that's what people said about Sawchuk's mark, yet Brodeur is about to top it despite a lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, the work stoppage in 2004-05 and missing 50 games due to injury this season.

More goalies may eventually top 100 shutouts, but Brodeur potentially could leave this number in the 120-range before he hangs up his skates. It's kind of ridiculous to think anyone currently playing could come close to that, but it is delicious food for thought.

Mason, a rookie, already has nine shutouts and he's only 20 years old. Let's assume for a moment that he's got at least 15 or more good seasons to go; if he averages seven shutouts per season, he could potentially top 100, but it's way, way, way too early to tell.

Fleury has 14 shutouts. If he plays another 15 seasons -- he's only 24 -- he would have to average more than six shutouts per season to get over 100. Price had only three shutouts last season, but provided he stays healthy, all signs point to a long career for him, too.

Luongo also would need to average more than six shutouts per season over the next decade to crack 100. He's almost 30, but is in his prime and may be getting better.

Lundqvist, 27, has 19 shutouts in his career, including 10 last season. If you work under more realistic terms and say seven per season would be a good average, Lundqvist would have to play another 12 seasons to get over 100.

Suffice to say, Brodeur is setting the bar pretty darn high, and he's not even close to being done yet.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.






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