One Word Why Jesper Bratt Trade Chatter Is Silly: Arbitration

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

New Jersey Devils fans have spent Father’s Day Weekend freaking out about the possibility the team might trade one of its best players and a fan favorite in Jesper Bratt. Frank Seravalli and Kevin Weekes both reported about Bratt’s availability. Elliotte Friedman talked about it in his 32 Thoughts Podcast after the Tampa Bay Lightning got trounced by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. He doesn’t think Bratt is as available as everyone is making him out to be.

With that said, there is one major reason why the Devils might never make Bratt available. He is eligible for arbitration this offseason. That’s usually a reason why teams want to get a deal done quicker. Arbitration usually comes with a lot of hurt feelings for the player and a disappointing contract for the team.

The last player who went to arbitration was Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings. He offered a contract worth $4.25 million while the Red Wings wanted to pay him $3.15 million. He ended up making $3.5 million.

Obviously, the Devils and Jesper Bratt are sitting at much bigger numbers. The last time a player worth at least $5 million went to arbitration was Jacob Trouba with the Winnipeg Jets. He made $5.5 million after the hearing. The teams usually sign one-year deals, but it doesn’t have to be that way. They can be two-year deals as well. That happened with Andrew Copp in 2018 as well.

The Devils probably want to avoid that. A two-year deal would take Bratt right to unrestricted free agency. A one-year deal would give the Devils control for one more negotiation. If the Devils truly want to get Bratt signed to a “prove-it” deal, then arbitration would actually be a good place to find the right value.

There’s also the possibility that the Devils and Bratt can go to negotiation, find the value, and use it to come to a long-term deal. There are obviously priorities the Devils are learning about Bratt. They know what he wants in terms of incentives, no-move and no-trade clauses, and other factors that come with signing a contract. That should all be taken care of during this initial negotiating period.

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Arbitration is usually a last-ditch effort to find a contract, and it sometimes ends with unhappy players. However, this one can be done without hurt feelings. Find out what is Bratt’s absolute value, and maybe they can use that to come to a long-term agreement. Victor Arvidsson signed a seven-year deal with the Nashville Predators after his hearing in 2017.

The whole point to this is a contentious negotiation is not going to force the Devils’ hand into trading Bratt. This is a tool in their negotiation arsenal, and it will be the reason the Devils have no interest in trading Bratt for a package that doesn’t blow their socks off.