Over the next week, we are going to predict some of the important contracts coming during this offseason for the New Jersey Devils. While there aren’t many unrestricted free agents that Devils fans care that much about, this is an important year for restricted free agents. Jack Hughes and Ty Smith have years left on their entry-level deal, but seven players currently on the roster are restricted free agents.
This happens when a team is as young as the Devils. There are so many entry-level contracts that they are going to end at similar times. Now, the Devils are trying to find the right value for players who probably got more NHL time than anyone expected.
Number one on the list of important contracts is Yegor Sharangovich‘s. He was so important to the Devils this season, and it looks like he’s one of the few legit players to come out of this season. Everyone else still has some questions to answer, but Sharangovich looks like he’s going to be good for years to come.
He will probably get the most Calder Trophy votes of anyone on the Devils. 11 players on the Devils this season were technically rookies. Sharangovich led them all in goals and in points. In fact, he had the fourth-most goals of any rookie in the league (only behind Kirill Kaprozov, Josh Norris, and Jason Robertson) and the fourth-most points.
Sharangovich played most of the season on the top line with Jack Hughes and Janne Kuokkanen. He earned his way on that line. Head coach Lindy Ruff tried a lot of combinations for Hughes, but Kuokkanen and Sharagovich were by far the best. Kuokkanen is another player that has a contract expiring, but we will get to that in a bit.
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It’s really hard to find a comp for Sharangovich to see what contract he might sign. Jake DeBrusk is an interesting choice in terms of production, but he had north of 200 games played before his second contract was signed. Plus, he was a former 1st-round pick. Teams are willing to pay a little extra when they once spent a 1st rounder.
Denis Gurianov is a very interesting comp. While he was a 1st rounder, he did take some time to make the NHL, and he had one good season in the NHL when his contract came up. Gurianov ended up getting a two-year, $5.1 million deal. That would be a pretty good deal for the Devils since it would keep Sharangovich’s deal in an affordable price range and keep him a restricted free agent at the end of the deal.
Another player that makes a lot of sense is Ethan Bear. He’s a defenseman, so that throws a wrench into the argument, but he was a one-year wonder who was a 5th-round pick. Bear wasn’t supposed to make the NHL, but he became an important part of that defense. Ken Holland didn’t want to take a huge chance by giving Bear a long-term deal, so he went with a bridge contract. Bear signed a two-year deal for a total of $4 million.
Sharangovich’s contract might fall just a little under Bears since he plays left wing, but their production and impact on the team were similar. Sharangovich’s deal with look something like two years and $3.5 million. The Devils would be smart to extend that to three years, making it a three-year, $5.25 million contract. Only time will tell what Tom Fitzgerald does with Sharangovich, but figuring out this contract is one of his most important offseason tasks.