New Jersey Devils: What’s Holding Up Jesper Bratt Negotiations?

New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt (63): (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt (63): (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jesper Bratt negotiations have gone on too long for the New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils have started training camp for about a week, and things have been up and down so far. Both Mackenzie Blackwood and Corey Crawford have missed a few practices. Nico Hischier missed the opening of camp, but we still saw a lot of positives from the Devils overall. It’s just nice to have hockey back. The biggest negative storyline surrounding the Devils right now is the absence of Jesper Bratt.

He still doesn’t have a new contract as he remains in Sweden before the season starts. He is a restricted free agent, so the Devils retain his rights no matter what. However, Bratt can’t come to the United States until he has a contract due to visa issues. So, even if he wanted to come to America to quarantine to be ready once a contract is done, he can’t.

This situation was bad at the start of camp. Now it’s terrible. Elliotte Friedman reported on Tim & Sid that the last time he checked, the two sides are far apart. Obviously, that’s not good. The Devils have had months to figure out Bratt’s demands, and he’s had this long to figure out his team’s expectations. To be “far apart” at this juncture is disheartening.

What could Bratt possibly be asking for? A better question might be “what are the Devils offering Bratt?”

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The big question here is, how far apart is “far apart”? Are the Devils hoping Bratt signs for five years at, say, $3.5 million and Bratt wants to do that for two years? If the two are at a similar price, considering that far apart is a stretch. However, if Bratt is asking for a two-year, $10 million deal while the Devils want to give him a five-year deal for $15 million, that’s really far apart. The issue is when you get far apart on price AND years.

Bratt is not the type of player that should be making this kind of move, but it is hard to really judge the situation without knowing all the facts. The last time the Devils dealt with this, they gave Miles Wood a four-year deal. At the time, it looked like the right decision to sign a young player off a 19-goal season to a long-term deal. However, nobody at this point is calling that a good deal.

So, have the Devils learned their lesson and refusing to put a long-term deal on the table? Are they hoping Bratt’s early inconsistency will allow them to lowball him with an offer? Is Bratt trying to get paid solely on the fact he scored 16 points in 20 games at the end of the season? Does he still feel a certain kind of way about the franchise that made him a healthy scratch in the middle of his hot streak?

It’s impossible to answer those questions without being in the room. All we know right now is these two sides are further apart than we hoped. The Devils don’t have the NHL experience at forward to allow this to go much longer. They only have until February 11th to get a deal done. if they don’t, Bratt has to sit out for the season. Deadlines are coming up quickly. Bratt is already going to miss the beginning of the season under a new head coach with limited practice time. Something has to give, and both sides need to find common ground for the good of the team.