Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

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Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

From Comcast SportsNet
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Martin Brodeur is going to remain the face of the New Jersey Devils. The 40-year-old goaltender who has led the team to three Stanley Cups, signed a two-year, 9 million contract Monday to stay with the only NHL club he's ever known. "At the end of the day, this is what I wanted all along," Brodeur said in a conference call. "Circumstances happen sometimes in life that I can't control, and I can't say it won't happen again, but I am happy, and two years seems appropriate for me maybe to leave the game at that time. But I am not 100 percent sure. Again, we'll how I feel and how well I am able to play." The key to the new deal was the Devils' eventual willingness to give him the extra year, Brodeur said. Adding the length of the contract was more important than the money because of the potential of a lockout this upcoming season. Two years provides stability and the assurance that he will have somewhere to play. Brodeur would not identify the teams that contacted him, though Chicago and Toronto expressed interest. When asked if he gave the Devils a discount, he noted there were offers from other teams that were much different than the one he signed. Hours after word of Brodeur's deal leaked, the Devils also announced that backup goaltender Johan Hedberg, 39, also signed a two-year deal worth 1.4 million per season. Both deals feature no-trade clauses. "We'll definitely bring stability to the back end," said Brodeur, the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. "We've done that for the last year and a half, two years. It's nice to be able to count on somebody to be able to play well and that helped me to be fresh on the back end of the season. It's a nice setup." Brodeur posted a 31-21-4 record in the regular season with three shutouts and a .908 save percentage in helping the Devils make the playoffs after missing out the previous year for the first time since 1996. He was better in the postseason, recording a 14-9 mark with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in leading sixth-seeded New Jersey to its first Eastern Conference title since 2003. New Jersey defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to the finals before losing the Cup to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. Brodeur has posted a 656-371-105 career record with the Devils, winning Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and has been a fixture for a franchise that had never been to a Cup final before he arrived. Admittedly, free agency was a new experience for him, as contract negotiations haven't often been a sticking point in his career. In fact, before he hired Pat Brisson last week, Brodeur used to represent himself at the bargaining table with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello. "We talked to the Devils all along and the line of communication was always open," Brodeur said, adding he did entertain some offers before the Devils came through with the all-important extra year. "The Devils weren't ready for a little while to do that," he said. "When they were able to get it done, that made the decision pretty easy." Hedberg, a 1994 draft choice of Philadelphia, has a career mark of 155-133-33 with 21 shutouts and a 2.83 goals-against average in 354 games over ten NHL seasons. He played for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas and Atlanta before truly finding his way in New Jersey. He played in 27 games last season, posting a 17-7-2 mark with four shutouts and a 2.23 goals-against, and is quite comfortable as a reserve player at this point in his career. With the goaltending situation settled, the Devils now turn their focus left wing Zach Parise. The Devils captain is the top free agent on the market, and he told reporters Sunday that he may make a decision Monday. Parise was named captain before last season by new coach Peter DeBoer, and delivered 31 goals and 69 points in that role. Brodeur spoke with Parise several times on Sunday, and then again on Monday morning. He even planned a couple more calls if necessary. He also talked to Lamoriello about Parise while working on his own deal. "Zach is a priority of the Devils," Brodeur said. "You have to put pieces together to form a team, and he is a piece of it, like Hedberg is a piece of it. Zach is a franchise player at this stage of his career. We are definitely waiting impatiently for his decision and hopefully he is coming back with us." Parise deserves everything he can get in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Brodeur said. "I wasn't that much biased yesterday afternoon, but now I am a lot more for him to come back," Brodeur quipped, adding that Parise has indicated that the Devils are right in the mix on his short list. "By no means," Brodeur said, "is he not considering coming back."

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Stock watch: Sanford impresses in preseason debut

Stock watch: Sanford impresses in preseason debut

The Caps lost their second preseason game on Tuesday night to the Montreal Canadiens, but it's the preseason. The score doesn't matter. What does matter is how the players played. Here's who looked good and who needs to up their game.

3 players who impressed:

Madison Bowey: When Bowey is distributing the puck, it looks like his teammates have magnets on their tape. Every pass from him was crisp and on target. Defensively, he finished the game with a minus-2, but he was hardly the only player to struggle on the defensive end of the ice on Tuesday. He will continue to develop his defensive skills in Hershey, but for now Bowey looks every bit the puck-moving, offensive defenseman the Caps hoped they were getting when they drafted him. In today's NHL, having that type of defenseman on your team is a major plus.

Zach Sanford: The Caps want to keep a 14th forward on the roster this season and in his NHL (preseason) debut, Sanford did everything he could to lay claim to that spot. It took a few minutes for him to settle into the game, but he didn't look out of place at all. He simply looked like a rookie trying to adjust to his first NHL experience. As the game went along, he looked more and more comfortable. What is really impressive about Sanford is his positioning and what he does away from the puck. He always seems to be exactly where he is supposed to be. That positioning ultimately set up his goal late in the third period. Sanford fought off a few hits to maintain his position in front of the net, setting up a perfect screen on Montreal goalie Zachary Fucale. Because of his positioning, he was able to deflect a shot from Connor Hobbs into the net past the helpless netminder. It was not a perfect game for Sanford by any means. Late in the second, he gave up the puck on a bad turnover and compounded the mistake by tripping Michael McCarron, but those kinds of mistakes are to be expected from someone who went straight from college to the NHL preseason. Overall, it was a very impressive performance.

Nathan Walker: When Andrew Shaw boarded Connor Hobbs in the second period, the first player to go after the gritty veteran was Nathan Walker. It didn't matter that Shaw has played in four NHL seasons or has 13 NHL fights on his resume, it didn't matter that he was going to get his butt kicked — he was going to stand up for his teammate. The biggest strike against Walker is his size. He is very generously listed as 5-foot-8. I've seen him in the locker room and let me tell you, there is no way he is that tall. But any fear the team may have had about Walker's ability to handle the size of the NHL has been erased in just two preseason games. Clearly he is not going to let himself be pushed around. At this point, I would be surprised if he does not get his first NHL game at some point this season.

RELATED: PENALTIES DOOM CAPS IN 5-2 LOSS TO MONTREAL

3 players who need to show improvement:

Brett Connolly: Connolly's signing was a surprise move by the Caps in the offseason. He is a former first-round draft pick still trying to live up to his potential. He is going to make the roster, but as a new player, the Caps are still trying to determine just where he fits into the lineup. That means he has more at stake in this preseason than most of his NHL teammates. Connolly registered six hits, but zero shots on net and was completely unable to take advantage of the weaker preseason roster Montreal played. Connolly is a sniper trying to establish his skill and he looked like a fourth-line grinder. If this is how he will play, there's no reason to play him over someone like Stanislav Galiev.

Liam O'Brien: In 2014, Liam O'Brien made the Caps' roster after a strong camp and stuck around for 13 games before getting sent down to the AHL. Two years later, he doesn't look close to that level. O'Brien took an early interference penalty as he slid into goalie Al Montoya. He added a second penalty in the third period as he was upset with a no-call on Nathan Beaulieu and kept trying to draw a fight with him until the referee ultimately sent him to the box. The days when teams could carry enforcers on the fourth line who did little else but fight and take penalties are over. O'Brien has to establish that he has more to offer the Caps and he failed to do so.

Darren Dietz: For the most part, Darren Dietz actually played a decent game on Tuesday. He had six hits and skated well against his former team. There was one major mistake, however, that really stuck out. In the second period, the Caps were about to go on the power play as Jeremy Grégoire slashed Zach Sill in the wrist. At the end of the play, Grégoire really tried to press his luck by giving Sill a little push into the boards. Grégoire is a 21-year-old player trying to make an impression by taking on one of the toughest guys on the ice. Sill is a 28-year-old, 6-foot-1, 202-pound veteran with 32 fights in the last five years in the NHL and AHL. He can take care of himself. Dietz, however, skated in and landed a vicious cross-check to the back of Grégoire and was called for roughing, thus negating the Caps' power play. There was no reason for Dietz to get involved in that scrum. Sill doesn't need him to fight off Grégoire, he could have easily brushed him aside. The referees had already established that they are calling a very tight game so it was no surprise to see Dietz sent to the box. He needs to know better than to lay that kind of hit on the back of an opposing player and risk a penalty in order to protect someone who didn't really need it.

MORE CAPITALS: MARCUS JOHANSSON SCORES FROM STRAIGHT ON VS. CANADIENS

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Lobaton, others step up in Nats' 1st game without Wilson Ramos

Lobaton, others step up in Nats' 1st game without Wilson Ramos

If guys like Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon play to their capabilities, the Nationals could make do without Wilson Ramos this postseason, at least on offense.

But even those guys can't do it all by themselves. The much more likely scenario involves a collective effort, one in which contributions from all-around lift the Nationals as a team and help compensate for the loss of one of their best and most consistent players. Collective efforts like Tuesday night when both of Ramos' replacements - Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino - chipped in on offense, Rendon provided the big swing and other bench players like Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo made pivotal plays in their 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lobaton called a strong game behind the dish, helping starter Max Scherzer adjust after allowing two runs in his first three innings to toss three scoreless after that. He then broke up Diamondbacks' starter Matt Koch's no-hitter in the sixth with a leadoff single. That ignited a four-run rally for the Nats, who took the lead and never relinquished it.

"I don't want to get a no-hitter," Lobaton said. "I got a good result and it was good for the team. We got a rally and we won."

"With [Ramos] going down for the year, that’s just heartbreaking," Scherzer said. "But Loby’s a guy that we need to step up and he’s the one who started off that inning."

Lobaton was replaced on the basepaths by Severino, who is faster than Lobaton, who happens to be dealing with a sore right ankle. Severino would later score after moving to third on walks drawn by Trea Turner and Difo. Severino came home on a sacrifice fly hit to left by Drew.

Lobaton and Severino will be a tag team partnership moving forward this season with Ramos out. They will need to spell each other and work together to try and recreate the production Ramos provided as a standout both at the plate and behind it.

On Tuesday, they pulled through.

"That's what they're going to have to do," manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what they're going to have to do to contribute."

Their night also involved a lot of communication once Severino replaced Lobaton. A veteran with more experience catching the Nationals' pitching staff, Lobaton advised Severino throughout the game about how to call it. That's something Ramos often does for Lobaton.

"That is good for a guy that is not playing every time. It's the same with me, I always talk to Wily about the pitchers and what they are doing," Lobaton said. "I try to communicate more, like what he's been doing and what he's working on. So, I try to do the same with Sevi. This is working in the game, this is not. It can be more easy for him when he goes out."

Severino scored the first run and later in the frame Rendon drove in three more on a homer to left field off Randall Delgado. Rendon was pleased to see the foundation laid ahead of him that inning.

"That’s a great example, first day, stepping up,” he said. "Definitely frustration [with Ramos' injury]. You never like to see a teammate get hurt… obviously he’s going to be missed. He’s a big part of this lineup. But we have a lot of good guys who can fill in. It’s going to be awesome to watch.”

The Nationals have five more games before the regular season is over. To capture a World Seires, they will need to win 11 more after that. It won't always be as smooth asTuesday night, but the Nationals demonstrated well to themselves what it will take to get by without their star catcher.

[RELATED: Dodgers set rotation for playoff series against Nationals]

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