New Jersey Devils: Predicting Nathan Bastian’s Next Contract

New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (42): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (42): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils have some very important contracts to negotiate this offseason, but luckily for the team, none of them are unrestricted free agents. The restricted free agents still waiting for new contracts include Yegor Sharangovich, Michael McLeod, Janne Kuokkanen, and Nick Merkley. One of the more interesting negotiations will be with Nathan Bastian.

For one, Bastian is in serious jeopardy of being exposed in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. The Devils have to expose at least one good player, and the Kraken might like a young, big-bodied forward who has a history of playing well. If the Kraken think Bastian could do better with a bigger opportunity (something the Devils have tried in the past), they could select him in the draft.

The Devils still need to have a good faith negotiation with Bastian because they need players on contract or they might have to expose someone like Pavel Zacha. Obviously, Tom Fitzgerald won’t let it get that far, but it’s an interesting caveat this offseason.

Anyway, back to Nathan Bastian’s next contract. It’s an interest argument what he should be paid. He’s had some flashes of really good play, but overall he’s a little inconsistent.  He’s 23 years old, so he’s coming closer to those prime years, but Bastian was always someone who was going to take a little longer to really show his best.

Bastian was one of the players that got a huge opportunity this season because the Devils lacked veterans. He showed he belongs in the NHL as his line with McLeod and Miles Wood played very well. On the surface, 10 points in 41 games is not great, but Bastian brings so much more than just points to the team. He gets in a position that opens space for his teammates. It’s no surprise both his linemates put together the best seasons of their career without doing that much on the power play. Their 5v5 play is some of the best on the team.

Bastian was pretty good in the AHL a year ago, and he was a catalyst in Binghamton’s run to a playoff spot before the season got canceled. He had 38 points in 62 games. Things went well for Bastian before he made it to the NHL, and now it looks like he’s here for good.

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So, what is that worth?

Honestly, Bastian is the perfect candidate for a one-year deal. He didn’t really break out this season, but he’s a fine player to have on the roster. The Devils could give him a raise from his $714,000 contract, and a one-way deal would at least keep him happy, but maybe the best route is to give him a one-year, $900,000 deal. It would keep him pushing to the next level, but it would also keep in mind that the team can’t really put all their eggs in his basket just yet.