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2010 NHL Free Agency: Devils sign Johan Hedberg to ease Martin Brodeur's burden

Jul 1, 2010, 5:48 PM EST

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hedberg.jpgJohan Hedberg will (or at least should) always hold a special place in the hearts of Penguins fans as “The Moose” came out of nowhere to help the team make a deep playoff run during Mario Lemieux’s amazing comeback from retirement. Despite that Cinderella run, though, Hedberg has just been a borderline NHL goalie since then.

That being said, he developed a reputation for being a team-first guy who also happened to really step his game up once the Atlanta Thrashers gave him a No.1 starter-type workload late last season. He put together a career-best 91.5 save percentage and 2.62 GAA while playing 47 games, the most he’s played in since dressing in 66 during the 2001-02 campaign.

The New Jersey Devils signed Hedberg to a one-year, $1.5 million deal including bonuses according to agent Jay Grossman.

The Devils hope that Hedberg can spell Martin Brodeur without pulling the team out of contention in those games, much like the New York Rangers did by signing Martin Biron to give Henrik Lundqvist a breather.

While Hedberg had a nice run with the Atlanta Thrashers, I think you should look to his career numbers as the greatest indicator of his future production. He has a career 90 percent save percentage – practically the definition of “average” – although the Devils occasionally help a normal goalie put together unexpectedly productive seasons. (Just look at career minor leaguer-turned-overpaid-Panthers-backup Scott Clemmensen.)

The Devils are tied for the third most back-to-back games in 10-11 with 20, so having a decent backup like Hedberg could really improve their chances of remaining a fixture in the Atlantic division. If Hedberg’s good enough to allow Brodeur to drop down to a more reasonable 60 games played range, he might even (indirectly) help the Devils recover from their recent bout of playoff letdowns.

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