To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first NHL Draft, NHL.com assembled a 13-member panel to select the best first-round picks of all time, based on selection number. NHL.com will feature one of the top first-round picks each day, beginning with the best No. 30 pick on June 1 and culminating with the all-time No. 1 pick on June 30, the day of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Today: The best No. 20 pick: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, 1990
In the history of the NHL, 683 goalies have played at least one game. None of them has played more games, earned more wins or stopped more pucks than Martin Brodeur.
Arguably the greatest to ever put on a pair of leg pads, Brodeur is the best No. 20 first-round pick in voting by the 13-member NHL.com Dream Draft panel. Brodeur is one of four players to be a unanimous selection at his draft position.
The New Jersey Devils, coming off the best season to that point in team history, had the No. 11 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft but traded with the Calgary Flames to move down to No. 20, adding a pair of second-round selections. Waiting for them was Brodeur, who was coming off a solid debut season in 1989-90 with the St. Hyacinthe Laser of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Brodeur went 23-13-2 in 42 games and earned a spot on the QMJHL All-Rookie team.
He spent two more seasons with St. Hyacinthe and made his NHL debut late in 1991-92 season, stopping 24 of 26 shots in a win against the Boston Bruins on March 26, 1992. He went 2-1-0 in four games that season.
After spending the entire 1992-93 season in the American Hockey League, he claimed the starting job in New Jersey in 1993-94 and hasn't let it go.
In 20 seasons, he's set NHL records for most games played by a goalie (1,220), most wins (669), most shutouts (121), saves made (30,569) and minutes played (71,786). He has the most 30-win (14) and 40-win (eight) seasons in League history.
Along the way he's won the Stanley Cup three times; he's also captured four Vezina trophies, five Jennings trophies, two Olympic gold medals, and a World Cup of Hockey championship.
After a game in 1998, then-teammate Scott Gomez said, "We're going to look back and say he was something special. It's a lot of wins, but he's the best there is. This guy might go down as the best ever."
Brodeur played more than 70 games in a season for 10 straight from 1997 to 2008, but in 2008-09 he sustained his first major injury -- he tore the biceps tendon in his left elbow, which sidelined him four months.
He came back and helped the Devils get into the playoffs. The following season, at age 37, he led the League in games played (77), wins (45), and shutouts (nine), and was third with a 2.24 goals-against average.
In addition to the stats and trophies, Brodeur changed the way the game is played. Among the best puckhandlers at his position, he's credited with three goals scored (two in the regular season, one in the playoffs). Because of his ability to move the puck, the League changed its rules in 2005-06, adding areas behind the goal line where goalies are restricted from playing the puck.
"Rival general managers decided to draw lines on the ice and write a new rule just to stop him from doing something that neutralized opposing dump-and-chase tactics and underpinned the Devils' championship defenses: Playing the puck like a third defenseman -- and that is no exaggeration," NHL vice president of public relations John Dellapina said.
Brodeur was just as good in the postseason. He's gotten the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final five times, he's second in playoff wins (113) and games played (205), and his 24 shutouts are more than any goalie.
"If he's not a unanimous vote, I don't know who would be," NHL Network analyst Craig Button said. "When you look at a 20-year goaltender that has accomplished what Marty Brodeur has done in his career, he's second to nobody. Maybe Patrick Roy is in the conversation, but he's second to nobody."
Voting: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey, 13 (unanimous selection)
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor