In the end, the best deal for New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello was not making a trade involving goalie Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur's name surfaced during the past month as a potential target of Stanley Cup Playoff contenders heading into the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline. Brodeur spoke of a lack of playing time and a desire to see more action. There were reports he was willing to waive his no-trade clause.
It never happened.
The only trade the Devils completed Wednesday was the acquisition of forward Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for center Andrei Loktionov and a conditional 2017 third-round pick.
"Our intention certainly was to try and get a top-nine forward with a lot of grit, who competes and who has a habit of playing in big games," Lamoriello told The (Newark) Star-Ledger. "We've played against [Ruutu] enough over the years. We feel good about it."
Ruutu is scheduled to join the Devils for practice Thursday afternoon. They travel to play the Detroit Red Wings on Friday before returning home to play the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Despite trade rumors surrounding Martin Brodeur, the goaltender remains with the New Jersey Devils. (Photo: Getty Images)
Lamoriello wouldn't go into details about Brodeur or what was said between the parties. Brodeur, 41, wasn't a piece of any trade Wednesday because he means more to the organization in his role than the potential he could have brought back in any transaction.
The tandem of Brodeur and Cory Schneider has combined for the fourth lowest goals-against average (2.35) in the NHL. The team appears to be hitting its stride, winning three of the past four games.
Lamoriello has long been a buyer at the trade deadline, not a seller. If he didn't feel he would receive a proper return for Brodeur, a deal wasn't going to materialize.
Brodeur, who made 20 saves in a 4-3 victory Tuesday against the Red Wings, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Lamoriello was upset about a report Tuesday which claimed a trade involving Brodeur was imminent with the Minnesota Wild.
"People are out of their minds spreading rumors," Lamoriello said then. "It's unbelievable to even hear these types of things. I just think it's incredible the way rumors start. It's just a disgrace that there is a license to start rumors."
Lamoriello was asked if he feels Brodeur is happy to be with the Devils for the remainder of the season.
"You'd have to talk to Marty," he said. "I hope so. I feel that way. I don't know why not. This player just won one of the most important games [on Tuesday]."
Brodeur reportedly attended the Devils' team meeting Wednesday morning but did not participate in the optional practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark. Brodeur has started and won two of the past three games and might be given the start Friday in the rematch with the Red Wings.
"It's all about getting some wins," Brodeur said Tuesday. "Next weekend is a back-to-back [against the Red Wings and Hurricanes], so we'll see."
The Devils have 67 points and are two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets in the race for the second of two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.
It's still possible Brodeur might sign with another team this summer after his contract with the Devils expires.
In 30 games, Brodeur is 15-11-4 with a 2.49 goals-against average, three shutouts and an .899 save percentage. Schneider, who ranks second in the NHL with a 1.92 GAA and is tied for 10th with a .923 save percentage, has played in 34 games (12-12-9).
Prior to Brodeur starting two of the past three games, Schneider was in net for seven straight (3-2-2).
Coach Peter DeBoer was asked if Schneider could be considered the No. 1 goalie with 19 regular-season games remaining.
"I don't think it's necessarily an accurate statement to say [Brodeur] is not the No. 1 guy," DeBoer said. "I think Cory grabbed the ball here prior to the Olympic break and ran with it for a while. Prior to that, Marty ran with it for a while.
"So I think it's been there for either of them to grab and they have at different respective times. And that's the case moving forward."