After an offseason of spending, the New Jersey Devils organization has quite a few big contracts. Those players need to live up to the money if the Devils will reach their goals as a franchise.
Recently, the Devils gave multi-year contracts to Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier. Both players got paid big bucks for building a solid foundation for years to come. Now it’s time for both players to step up and make the Devils proud of who they signed. There is some debate though on which contract will work out better long term between the two. Which one has more upside and can bring more positive results?
Jesper Bratt had a lot to prove going into last season. He got a one-year prove-it deal after a contentious offseason of negotiation. Thankfully, it ended up paying off, as Bratt looked phenomenal in his 6th year with the Devils.
He scored 32 goals and recorded 42 assists last season. He looked solid on a line last year with Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar. Having these linemates gave Bratt more ways to shift his skating into chances and good shots.
After trading for Timo Meier, Bratt and Meier would become linemates together with Hischier. It was fine but not great. Meier was trying to find his fit, and Bratt didn’t have as solid a second half. However, he did get a hat trick against the Lighting that season, so that was a nice moment for him towards the end of the season. After the season ended, the Devils extended Bratt with an eight year, $63 million contract.
However, Bratt has many things to focus on to ensure the extension works well. First off, he is a great player and plays hard. However, Bratt needs to get his work ethic up more. Last year in the playoffs, Bratt could’ve had many more points, as he and the rest of the team didn’t show up against the Carolina Hurricanes.
However, this is understandable because many players had little-to-no experience in the playoffs. Now, with the knowledge, they can be more robust. Bratt may also want to work on shooting, especially on the powerplay. If he can finish chances, especially with new guys like Tyler Toffoli on the team, he will become one of the best players in Devils history, and the decision to pay him an eight-year $63 million extension is worth it.
Last year, Timo Meier began the season as a Shark and was the 2nd best player on the team aside from Erik Karlsson. Meier scored nonstop and looked terrific, probably the best he’s ever looked in his career. He scored 52 points with 31 goals and 21 assists and became one of the top trade deadline acquisitions.
Most people assumed that the Devils would get Meier, and that’s exactly what happened. They acquired Meier in a deal for picks and prospects, including Shakir Mukahmadullin and Fabian Zetterlund. For the rest of Meier’s season, he did well with nine goals and five assists in the last 21 games. In the playoffs, he only managed to get four points in only 11 games. After the Carolina series ended, the Devils extended Meier to an eight-year, $70 million contract. While he got his extension, there are some things he must improve on next season for the contract to determine that it was a great move.
The one thing that Meier had an issue with after joining the Devils was finishing. He missed a few wide-open nets a few times in the season, which could’ve affected many games. One big one was in the playoffs against the Hurricanes game 5, where Meier missed a wide-open net that could’ve given the Devils the lead and maybe forced a game six back at The Rock. The other concern was that he only had 21 games in the regular season to get to know his new teammates. With a fresh season, the connection with the teammates must be there if Meier can have a good season. Going into this season, Meier, can he score the same points as last year? If he can put up similar numbers and even better ones for future years, it can showcase that the Devils have another cornerstone piece to their future runs.
Next season could prove a lot of things between the two players. Both have that elite type of talent that any team could use. There are a lot of similarities between the two players. Both players have excellent shooting and skating skills. There’s also the idea they can both average over 70 points a season across the life of the contract.
However, there is one thing that decides this: experience and risk. Timo Meier’s contract has both those aspects. For any team, certain risks must turn into positives to win the Stanley Cup. Trading for Timo Meier is the most significant risk the Devils have had in quite some time. The Devils need Timo Meier to put up a lot of points in the eight years he will be here. However, now that he’s here for an entire season, we can finally see what kind of true player he is. He had more experience at 26 years old at what type of team he believes can win a cup. While Jesper Bratt’s contract can lead to many great opportunities in the future, I think Timo Meier’s contract will ultimately win out and lead to future Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Finals runs for this young and upcoming organization.