New Jersey Devils: Jesper Bratt Needs To Be A Finisher This Season

New Jersey Devils left wing Jesper Bratt (63): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils left wing Jesper Bratt (63): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Jesper Bratt had such a strange season in 2021. He started things off with a contract dispute that forced him to miss real games since there was a visa issue tied to the coronavirus pandemic. He finally agreed to a two-year deal on January 10th. The issue was the season started on January 14th. The New Jersey Devils were going to be without Bratt for at least a few weeks. Bratt would join the team on January 28th and got his first point of the season in his third game against the Buffalo Sabres. That would be their last game for two weeks.

Bratt would return from the team’s COVID outbreak playing very well. He had assists in each of the first three games back and finished the month of February with five points in eight games. His March was even better with 12 points in 17 games. He appeared timid at times with the puck on his stick, but he always found the open man.

Jesper Bratt has to become a scorer for the New Jersey Devils.

The issue with Bratt is his ability to finish. Out of his 30 points last season, he only had seven goals. He was taking shots, but they didn’t come in the right spot. He had as many shots in 48 games last season (101) as he did in the season before. In 2019-20, Bratt had 16 goals on 101 shots. Last season, that fell to just 7. His shooting percentage dropped from 15.8% to 6.9%.

Shooting percentages can be random from year to year and the easiest way to predict a player’s drop in production is to look for abnormally high shooting percentages. Bratt’s shooting percentage has been inconsistent, but last year was the worst of his four-year career.

Bratt was way too reliant on his linemates last season. 12 of his 23 assists were secondary assists according to Natural Stat Trick. The season prior he only had 2 secondary assists out of 16. Almost all of his per-60 rates were down year over year. His individual high-danger chances per 60 minutes dropped from 3.29 to 2.92. It’s still a major jump forward from his first two seasons, but his expectations are rising, and he has to step up.

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If Bratt is going to stay in the Devils’ top six long term, he needs to prove he belongs there. The Devils added Tomas Tatar this offseason. Yegor Sharangovich looks phenomenal in Olympic qualifiers. Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote will eventually be ready to break into the NHL lineup. Bratt has competition coming. If he isn’t able to score on a more consistent basis, then he will have trouble solidifying his spot next to Nico Hischier.