TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Martin Brodeur is staying with the New Jersey Devils.
Despite speculation that the Devils were considering dealing the NHL’s winningest goaltender, the 41-year-old will finish his 20th consecutive season in New Jersey after Wednesday’s trade deadline expired.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello refused to say whether any teams either inquired about Brodeur’s availability or they offered him to anyone. He also refused to say whether Brodeur had waived his no-trade clause or given him a list of teams to which he would agree to be traded.
Lamoriello blamed the recent trade speculation about Brodeur on the media.
“It’s just a shame that without no substance at different times and no facts that people say things,” Lamoriello said.
The longtime Devils executive, however, refused to say whether Brodeur was a topic in his trade discussions.
“Why are we dealing in hypotheticals, I have no idea,” Lamoriello said. “It’s not the case. So why we react and try to look for something that’s no there and create a story out of nothing.”
Brodeur did not attend the Devils’ optional practice Wednesday and he was not immediately available for comment.
The NHL’s career leader in wins, minutes played, games played, losses and shutouts had fueled some of the trade talk by saying he was not happy with playing time in recent weeks. Counting his 4-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday, he had started two of the Devils’ last 10 games, playing a backup to Cory Schneider.
Brodeur started the season as the Devils’ top goaltender but he has taken a back seat to Schneider.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer said there isn’t a No. 1 goaltender for the Devils.
“I think Cory grabbed the ball here prior to the Olympic break and ran with it for a while,” DeBoer said. “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.”
Brodeur has a special place in the hearts of Devils’ fans. They chanted “Mar-tee, Mar-tee” at times during the win over the Red Wings, in case Tuesday was the last game for the man who has been awarded the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie four times and is a three-time Stanley Cup champion while playing his entire career with the Devils.
“I don’t think you ever replace Marty,” Schneider said after Wednesday’s workout. “I am not him. I am not going to be him. I will try to be myself and do my thing and take some of the stuff that I learned from a lot of great people that I played with along the way, him being one of them.”
Brodeur’s contract expires after this season and he could explore free agency next season.
In their only move of the day, the Devils acquired forward Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes for center Andrei Loktionov and a conditional third-round pick in 2017.
“He does the things we like to see, he gets right in your face,” Lamoriello said of Ruutu, who has five goals and 11 assists in 57 games this season and waived a no-trade clause to come to New Jersey.
The 31-year-old Finn has shown scoring ability. He has 138 goals and 186 assists in 606 career games over 10 seasons with Chicago and Carolina.
“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 said. “We’ve played against him enough over the years. We feel good about it.”
The Hurricanes have agreed to retain some of Ruutu’s salary, which is $5 million annually.
Loktionov had four goals and eight assists in 48 games. He was acquired from Los Angeles in 2013.
Lamoriello is confident that Devils can find a way to get back to the playoffs after missing them last season.
“I think some of our players are just starting to find themselves after the break, and a couple of others who are ready to achieve,” he said. “We are a team. We play like a team. Our coaching staff has done a great job of maximizing that. Once you get in the playoffs, it’s anyone’s chance but first you have to get there. We’re right there in the mix. We have to win. Ii can’t put it any simpler than that.”
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