New Jersey Devils: Does Jesper Bratt Have Another Level?

Jesper Bratt #63 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jesper Bratt #63 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils finally came to an agreement with winger Jesper Bratt. After years of negotiations, and back-to-back 73-point seasons, the Devils gave Bratt an eight-year deal worth $63 million.

If Bratt can keep up his current production throughout the life of the deal, it will go down as a steal. It’s not asking too much for him to accomplish that. We might forget, but he’s just 24 years old. There’s a strong possibility we haven’t seen the best out of Bratt yet.

His ceiling is hard to quantify. Does he have a 100-point ceiling? That feels like an extreme ask. Bratt is a really good player and definitely one of the best offensive players on the team, but he’s at best fourth. He is absolutely behind Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Timo Meier. One day, he could fall behind Dawson Mercer. This isn’t even to say he falls below his current level of production. The Devils are just stacked, and Bratt is like any player where his ceiling has a limit.

Still, a consistent 80-point player seems like a reliable prediction for Bratt moving forward. Sometimes, players will take their foot off the gas when they get the big contract, but Bratt seems more like he’ll be relieved that the deal is done, and now he can focus on hockey.

Talking about whether 80 points is “up another level” from 73 points feels like semantics. The most important thing for Bratt over this eight-year deal is to find his playoff production. Last season, Bratt had a lot of trouble finishing in the playoffs. He used his skill to get in the right position, but he couldn’t execute beyond that.

One goal over 12 playoff games is unacceptable for Bratt. The Devils need more from him. The fact that the one goal he did score was on an empty net hurts his case even more. Bratt should be one of Lindy Ruff’s most trusted offensive weapons. In the playoffs, he was the opposite of that. Ruff had to move the lines around to get others ice time over Bratt.

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In the first six playoff games, Bratt never played less than 18:30 of ice time. From Game 7 against the Rangers through the Carolina series, Bratt broke 18:30 just once, and it was by seven seconds in the Game 3 explosion during the second round. This is where the expectation is. If Bratt scored 30 points in the regular season but became a point-per-game player in the playoffs, we’d all be thrilled (as long as it wasn’t like seven points in seven games). Bratt has to prove he can do it on the game’s biggest stage. That is the way he can go to another level.