Martin Brodeur is doing something he has never done before in his illustrious 21-season NHL career. There's no telling how long it will last.
He is searching for a job.
Brodeur is an unrestricted free agent and has never been in the position of needing to look for work. Then again, Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins, shutouts and just about any other goaltender stat there is, has never been a potential backup goalie or a free agent beyond July 2.
He made it to the second day of the free-agent signing period two years ago, but all the New Jersey Devils had to do was increase their offer with a second year to entice him to re-sign. He did so immediately.
Now the Devils appear prepared to go in a different direction for the first time since selecting Brodeur with the No. 20 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, and the list of teams interested in a 42-year-old who posted a .901 save percentage in 39 appearances last season is limited.
Brodeur is intent on playing at least one more season, but his desire comes with one stipulation: He wants a chance to win the Stanley Cup for a fourth time. An already short list of teams that might be interested in Brodeur only gets shorter with that stipulation.
It's possible Brodeur won't find what he's looking for in free agency and will instead decide to call it a career. If that happens, he'd likely land a job in the Devils organization and his No. 30 will go up to the rafters inside Prudential Center at some point during the season. He'd be part of the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
However, the odds, for now at least, are still in favor of Brodeur finding a team for what could be his final season.
What team will it be? The answer isn't so simple. Let's take a look:
IT COULD HAPPEN
Boston Bruins: For now the expectation is for 24-year-old Nikas Svedberg to be the backup to Tuukka Rask. Svedberg was 25-15-4 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 45 games with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League last season.
However, it wouldn't be shocking for general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien to have second thoughts about putting a goalie with one NHL appearance into an important role. Chad Johnson played 27 games as Rask's backup last season but he signed with the New York Islanders.
Boston checks off all the boxes for Brodeur as a Stanley Cup contender that doesn't have a veteran backup. There are, however, salary-cap concerns. The Bruins don't have any room right now to sign a veteran goalie. Svedberg's contract carries a $600,000 salary-cap charge.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Brodeur might fit with the Maple Leafs provided they trade James Reimer, who is a restricted free agent. Reimer reportedly asked to be traded, but Toronto is under no obligation to grant his wish, especially when he can be a reliable backup to Jonathan Bernier.
However, Toronto president of hockey operations Brendan Shanahan told Tom Gulitti of The Record on Sunday the team has expressed an interest in Brodeur. Shanahan even asked the question, "Why wouldn't there be interest in him?"
Toronto likely would have to settle the Reimer situation before trying to add Brodeur.
IT'S UNLIKELY, BUT NOT UNREALISTIC
Arizona Coyotes: They're operating on an internal budget, so they might not have the money to offer Brodeur even if they do have the cap space. They also signed Devan Dubnyk and have Mark Visentin as options to backup Mike Smith. If they think either or both can work out, they won't look elsewhere. The problem is neither is even remotely close to a sure thing.
Dubnyk is on a one-way contract worth $800,000. He is not exempt from waivers. He also had an .891 save percentage in 34 NHL appearances last season. Visentin is 21 and had a 3.25 GAA with a .902 save percentage in 45 games with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League last season.
Carolina Hurricanes: Any potential interest Carolina might have in Brodeur, if there is any at all, likely hinges on the future of Cam Ward, who has been rumored to be on the trading block but hasn't been moved. According to TSN, the Calgary Flames were interested in acquiring Ward at the NHL Draft and the Hurricanes declined. Carolina also has Anton Khudobin, who is coming off a strong season and might be prepared for a bigger role.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Here's another team with an established No. 1 (Sergei Bobrovsky), an uncertain No. 2 (Curtis McElhinney), cap space to use, and the hope of being a contender in the Eastern Conference. McElhinney's one-year contract is for $600,000, so he could be sent to the AHL with no penalty against the cap.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild would have to clear some of their goaltending depth to sign Brodeur. They have three goalies for two NHL spots as it is, even if none of them bring any certainty to the position.
Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis) is a question mark and Niklas Backstrom is risky because of his history of injuries. Darcy Kuemper, a restricted free agent, has appeared in 32 NHL games, but he has shown promise with a 2.37 GAA and .915 save percentage.
Nashville Predators: They learned the hard way last season how important goaltending depth is. Pekka Rinne went down and they cycled through Carter Hutton, Marek Mazanec and even 12 minutes of Magnus Hellberg only to miss the playoffs by three points. Dubnyk was acquired then traded to the Montreal Canadiens.
Rinne is obviously the No. 1. Hutton is expected to be the No. 2. But Brodeur could be an option. Nashville has the cap space and a fresh fear of the unknown when it comes to goaltending. Hutton is not exempt from waivers.
New Jersey Devils: Put this under the category of highly, highly unlikely, but the Devils only have one goalie, Cory Schneider, signed to a one-way contract. Scott Clemmensen and Keith Kinkaid are each on a two-way contract but they're expected to compete for the backup job.
Winnipeg Jets: Ironically, Winnipeg might offer Brodeur the best chance to play the most games, but the Jets don't fit the other criteria of being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They will struggle to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference.
That said, Ondrej Pavelec remains the Jets' only signed NHL goalie. Winnipeg signed Michael Hutchinson, 24, who played three NHL games last season, to a two-year contract on Wednesday, but according to reports it's a two-way contract for 2014-15.
IT WOULD BE A SHOCK
Florida Panthers: Though Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur are from the same neighborhood (St. Leonard, Quebec), they will not play for the same team. Al Montoya was signed to be Luongo's backup. The Panthers also have Dan Ellis for $900,000.
Montreal Canadiens: Brodeur's hometown team has a surplus of goaltending behind Carey Price with Dustin Tokarski, Peter Budaj and Joey MacDonald signed. Tokarski and MacDonald have a two-way contract.