New Jersey Devils: Erik Haula Signs Very Fair Deal

New Jersey Devils left wing Erik Haula (56): Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils left wing Erik Haula (56): Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils traded constant project Pavel Zacha to the Boston Bruins straight up for journeyman Erik Haula. On paper, it looked like a losing deal for the Devils. Zacha was younger, had a better pedigree, and was a huge bounce-back candidate. Haula has played for Boston, Nashville, Carolina, Florida, and Vegas since 2019. These were two very different players.

Yet, both players had huge impacts on their new team. Zacha was paired with David Pastrnak for most of the season, as he had a historic scoring run. His season earned him a four-year, $19 million deal.

Haula was going into unrestricted free agency, but he was adamant about staying with the Devils. He kept getting traded or signing with new teams, and after a 41-point effort this season, it seemed the Devils found the right fit in the middle six.

Haula spent part of this season with Jack Hughes, as the Devils star officially went into the superstar stratosphere. Haula winning faceoffs allowed Hughes to focus on the parts of his game that could truly shine. Haula and Hughes together had 64 percent of the high-danger chances, while Hughes without Haula only had 58 percent according to Natural Stat Trick.

These two together were making magic. Now, they can make magic for three more years. Haula signed a three-year deal worth $3.15 million per season. That leaves the Devils with $23.25 million left to spend and really only Timo Meier as the big free agent to sign. The Devils will have to make a decision on Tomas Tatar, but besides that, most of the other free agents will be between $1-2 million per player.

Haula clearly prioritized sticking in one place. He has a two-year full no-trade clause and then a six-team no-trade clause in his final year. He might have been able to make a little more in free agency, but he chose to take probably his last long-term deal with the Devils. He’s 32 years old, so he takes this deal to his 35-year-old season.

He will be one of the older Devils on this roster, but he proved he can stick on this team for everything he brings to the table. There is nothing Haula won’t do to stop a puck from going in the net. He is a faceoff savant.

When it comes to offense, one would think he will do better next season. His shooting percentage of 8.5% is well below his 11.5% career average. If he had just shot his career average, he would have added nine goals, giving him 19 on the season. That looks a lot better with 19 goals and 27 assists.

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This is all to say that this is a fabulous signing by the New Jersey Devils. Haula fit in perfectly into this roster, and it makes sense he would sign long term. The Devils are securing their most important re-sign options prior to the NHL Draft, where players could be traded. The Devils might have an interesting move coming, especially if Meier signs in the next week.