Early Thursday afternoon, Elliotte Friedman and Pierre LeBrun reported that shifty high-end winger Jesper Bratt and the New Jersey Devils have agreed upon an eight-year contract worth $63 million with an AAV (Average Annual Value) of $7.875 million.
Today, we’re going to go over four important takeaways from the lucrative contract the two sides agreed upon.
Four Takeaways from Jesper Bratt’s New Contract
One of the most fascinating takeaways is the fact that Bratt has come from being a #162 overall draft pick to a $63 million man at the young age of 24. Bratt was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft who hit the ground running right out of camp.
Finding a player that late in the draft with as much success in the NHL as Bratt has had is like finding a needle in a haystack. On average, only 15% of fifth and sixth-round picks play some games in the NHL, let alone becoming a star and bonafide play-driver.
Bratt has turned into a dynamic two-way forward with an accurate shot and skilled rush play who has no issues with driving a line if needed. His 2022-2023 scorecard projects to have an Offensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) value of 94% with a finishing WAR% coming in right below at 91%. There’s no question this guy knows how to generate offense and put the puck in the back of the net.
I’ve seen a lot of Twitter GMs and Devil fans breaking down the value of Bratt’s contract and I think everyone needs to just stop what they’re doing and take a second to acknowledge the fact the New Jersey Devils hit a home run with Jesper Bratt and the progression he’s made since his eligible draft year. Not often do you find a star player of Bratt’s caliber in the sixth round of the NHL Draft.
Term That Should Age Well
In the last few months, much of the debate has been around GM Tom Fitzgerald’s comments stating he wanted to keep his players’ AAV below the Jack Hughes contract signed for $8 million. Getting lost in this topic was the length of the contract.
With the NHL salary cap projected to rise within the next couple of years, we’ve seen RFA (Restricted Free Agent) contracts getting shorter. Star players are wanting to sign deals at a higher AAV on a lesser term contract of maybe three-to-five years. The process behind a deal like this offers a star player the opportunity to cash in on another contract when the cap goes up.
With that being said, I expected Bratt and his camp to settle on a three-to-five-year contract of around $8 million so they can yet again cash in when Bratt hits the healthy age of around 28-30. However, that was not the case. Fitzgerald and the New Jersey Devils did a spectacular job of getting Bratt locked up for eight years.
The term on the Bratt contract is a win in many different ways for the Devils. Having Bratt locked up at $7.875M for the next eight years will allow the Devils more cap space to work with down the road. Since the Devils’ core is all but locked up aside from Timo Meier, the added money can be used to add extra depth pieces in the bottom six when needed for a playoff run.
I’m not going to waste too much time on this one because it’s a topic that has been beaten to the ground the last few weeks.
I don’t think the $7.875 AAV was a slam dunk or an out-of-the-park home run, but I do think it’s a healthy number for the Devils. Recent rumors had Bratt projected anywhere between $7.7M and $8.5M so it’s nice to see Bratt get in at the lower end of these projections.
As I stated in the previous takeaway, GM Fitzgerald wanted to keep Bratt’s contract below star centerman Jack Hughes’ $8 million cap hit and that’s exactly what he got.
Front Loaded Contract
As previously stated by New Jersey Devils team reporter Amanda Stein, Bratt’s contract has been front-loaded. Below is a breakdown of the contract.
- 23-24: $10M
- 24-25: $9M
- 25-26: $9M
- 26-27: $8M
- 27-28: $7.2M
- 28-29: $7.2M
- 29-30: $6.6M
- 30-31: $6M
Total $63M (Bratt’s jersey number)
As you can see, the contract is very top-heavy in the beginning and drops off year by year. I’m a big fan of this considering the Devils have a few players coming in on ELC (Entry Level Contracts) this coming season. The Devils have the money now to take on a little extra cap to set themselves up down the road. Once the young players ’ELCs burn up, they will need a heavy extension and the fall-off on Bratt’s contract is a nice place to find some extra needed cap space for the future.
Considering it took two years for Fitzgerald and Bratt’s camp to come together on a deal, this is a win for both sides. Fitzgerald stands his ground getting Bratt locked up below $8 million and Bratt gets a lucrative contract paying him for the next eight years while staying in New Jersey.
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