The New Jersey Devils announced Wednesday morning that the team has signed right winger Jesper Bratt to a one-year deal worth $5.45MM prior to reaching arbitration. He will again be a restricted free agent next offseason.
The deal comes in right under the wire, as Bratt’s arbitration hearing was scheduled for this morning. Per CapFriendly, he will still have arbitration rights next offseason.
Fresh off his 24th birthday, Bratt has already transformed into likely the biggest steal of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Taken in the sixth round by New Jersey that year, Bratt played his rookie season just one year later in 2017-18. He had registered between 30 and 35 points in each of his first four NHL seasons. With six seasons having passed since that draft, Bratt already ranks seventh in scoring among his draft peers despite being selected 162nd overall.
But 2021-22 was a breakthrough campaign for Bratt, showcasing his potential as a bonafide first-line winger. In 76 games, Bratt tied for the team lead with 26 goals and led the team outright with 47 assists and 73 points. All of those marks were personal career highs. It didn’t seem like a huge shooting bender boosting his numbers, either, as his 13.2% shooting percentage wasn’t even the highest mark of his career.
Bratt’s new cap hit comes in just above what a “split the difference” decision would’ve been in arbitration, as The Athletic’s Arpon Basu notes that the halfway point between the two arbitration filings was $5.325MM.
With Bratt signing today and Tyce Thompson signing yesterday, the Devils have just two RFAs remaining — left wing Miles Wood and center Fabian Zetterlund. Wood, who played just three games in 2021-22 due to injury, has an arbitration hearing set for August 6. Zetterlund, who’s a candidate to crack the opening night lineup after eight points in 14 NHL games last year (and 52 points in 58 AHL games), is not eligible for arbitration.
With just Wood left to sign to hit a full 23-man roster, CapFriendly lists the Devils as having roughly $3.25MM in cap space.