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Weekes is prepared to test free agent waters

by Dan Rosen

"I didn't have much of a platform this year and I had a .920 save percentage. It's not easy to bluff your way through this League and had I played the minimum games required I would have been fifth in save percentage."
-- Kevin Weekes

Kevin Weekes still wants to be that other goalie in New Jersey.

"It is my No. 1 goal to stay with New Jersey," Weekes, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, told during a recent visit to the NHL Powered by Reebok store in New York City.

Nobody knows better than Weekes that unless Martin Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins, gets injured again, the chance for the Devils' backup to get consistent playing time doesn't exist. But that doesn't bother Weekes, who for two seasons has felt right at home at Prudential Center and at peace with his role in the NHL.

"Marty is who Marty is and he loves to play all the time," added Weekes, who said he is fully healed from a left knee injury that cost him the last portion of the season. "If he's willing to play a little bit less, who knows? If so, I know I'd like to play a bit more."

Weekes doesn't use the word content when describing how he feels about being a backup because his competitive nature drives him to be more than that, but he understands that is what he is now so he wants to get the most out of the role.

Weekes feels he did this past season even though Scott Clemmensen won the job as the Devils' No. 1 when Brodeur was out for 50 games following elbow surgery.

Weekes played in only 16 games, but he was 7-5-0 with a .920 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average. Among goalies that played between 15-30 games, only Minnesota's Josh Harding had a better save percentage (.929 in 19 games).

"I didn't have much of a platform this year and I had a .920 save percentage," Weekes said. "It's not easy to bluff your way through this League and had I played the minimum games required I would have been fifth in save percentage. A lot of that isn't only attributed to me, it's to the guys around me. At the same time, that was a good sign and having that re-energized me to want to continue to play and play as often as possible."

Weekes said in the interview earlier this month that he had not spoken to Devils' General Manager Lou Lamoriello since his exit meeting following New Jersey's disastrous loss to Carolina in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Lamoriello has to decide whether he wants to re-sign Weekes or Clemmensen, who also becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He could also go outside the organization to find Brodeur's backup.

"The bottom line is you don't know what is going to happen with unrestricted free agency," Weekes said. "It is a crazy time and things happen and it's a business at the end of the day. A lot of things are beyond our control as players."

With that in mind, Weekes has been looking at openings around the League and is diligent in his research. He looks at not only potential compensation and opportunity, but geographic location, systems, the entire coaching staff and the existing goalie coach.

He feels that now, more than ever, managers have a thirst for veteran backups since a lot of teams (Montreal, Columbus, Nashville, Anaheim, Ottawa and Los Angeles to name a few) appear ready to move forward with young and/or unproven goalies in No. 1 roles.

"There is a market for us," Weekes said. "As much as teams want to accelerate and fast track young guys, there is a reason there are only 60 of us that play this position in this League."

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