What Should Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier’s Next Contracts Look Like?

Timo Meier #96 of the New Jersey Devils waits for the face off against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Prudential Center on March 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Timo Meier #96 of the New Jersey Devils waits for the face off against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Prudential Center on March 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Fresh off of a disappointing playoff run for both of them, New Jersey Devils star wingers Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier are slated to hit restricted free agency. Is either of these players worth the big money they are commanding?

There’s no doubt that Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier are among the top wingers in the NHL. Now, both players need new contracts at the same time. It’s something the New Jersey Devils must address early in the offseason.

For Bratt, this process has drawn out much longer than it really should have. For Meier, this could be his last big payday, with a $10m qualifying offer required to guarantee his services in New Jersey for another year. Bratt could find himself in a similar situation after trying to strong-arm the Devils into forking over a contract reportedly north of $8m annually last summer. Tom Fitzgerald and the rest of the front office would be wise to tread carefully in contract negotiations, as the winger market is currently a bit tricky with younger players starting to reset it.

For example, Matt Boldy signed a seven-year, $49 million contract ($7 million average annual value) with the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 16. Boldy’s production pales in comparison to that of Bratt, who boasts 0.92 points per game over the last two seasons, compared to Boldy’s modest 0.80. More comparably, Tim Stützle signed an eight-year, $66.8 million ($8.35 million AAV) contract with the Ottawa Senators on Sep. 7, 2022. Stützle’s PPG is slightly better than Bratt’s, at 0.94. He’s also 21, whereas Bratt will turn 25 later this summer.

Bratt’s 106 points at even-strength over the last two seasons rank 11th among left wingers over the last two seasons, trailing the likes of Kyle Connor and Kevin Fiala by less than 10 points. While Fiala’s offensive production has been superior overall with 1.04 PPG, he signed a seven-year, $55.1 million contract with the Kings worth $7.875 million annually. Over the life of his contract, Fiala won’t earn more than $8.75 million in total salary in any given year.

For Bratt, a similar contract to Fiala’s should be in order. Bratt isn’t a premier offensive player on his team like Fiala, taking a back seat to Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and now Timo Meier. Bratt shouldn’t earn more than $8.25m in annual salary over the course of his next contract, but I believe this is the appropriate framework needed to keep him aboard. Fiala and Bratt are pretty similar players, with similar builds and hopefully similar contracts.

Getting a read on Timo Meier’s value is much more difficult. Over the last two seasons, Timo Meier ranks 17th in the NHL in goals whilst playing for a rotten San Jose Sharks team for most of that time. His 75 goals are between Steven Stamkos and Jake Guentzel’s 76 and Roope Hintz and William Nylander’s 74. Hintz signed an eight-year, $67.6 million contract ($8.45 million AAV) with the Dallas Stars in November, and the deal is front-loaded for his salary to exceed $10m in each of the first three years. The caveat is that Hintz plays center, and plays in all phases of the game for the Stars.

Comparing Meier to other right wingers only complicates matters even further. Only Adrian Kempe, David Pastrnak, and Mikko Rantanen have scored more goals than Meier since the start of the 2021-22 season. Kempe has just one more goal but 21 less points in five more games. And then, to state the obvious, Meier is not the same caliber of player as Rantanen and Pastrnak, who each scored 50+ goals and 100+ points this season.

Meier’s 0.92 PPG over the last two seasons is identical to Bratt, but the difference is that Meier is more thunder and Bratt is more lightning. Meier should get a similar deal to Bratt despite being older, but the argument could be made for him to earn slightly more based on his goal-scoring prowess and the context of playing for the Sharks. Meier’s $10m qualifying offer required to guarantee his stay in New Jersey complicates things, but the player hasn’t indicated any kind of insubordination over it. It might be more beneficial for the Devils if they did front-load the deal because they’ll need to re-sign other players like Dawson Mercer, Akira Schmid, and Luke Hughes in the near future. If Meier is committed to playing for a winning team for the remainder of his prime years, his choice is simple.

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Neither Bratt nor Meier should realistically be earning much more, if anything, over $8m annually. However, their choosing to stay in New Jersey would be conducive to sustained, long-term success with multiple deep playoff runs.