When the New Jersey Devils inked Jesper Bratt to an eight-year, $7.875MM cap-hit deal earlier this week, it may have come in a few dollars less than some expected, given his point production. Similar to Cole Caufield’s long-term deal in Montreal, some attributed this to New Jersey’s desire to keep a strict salary hierarchy – at least among forwards – under star center Jack Hughes, who’s locked in at $8MM per season.
However, general manager Tom Fitzgerald refuted that notion today in an appearance on The Jeff Marek Show, prioritizing the importance of general market comparables over an internal hierarchy. As New Jersey Hockey Now’s James Nichols says, that likely generates a clearer range for what we could expect the cap hit to be on a pending extension for winger Timo Meier. The Swiss-born forward notched 40 goals for the first time in his career in 2022-23 in 78 games.
Given Meier’s experience (and, therefore, consistency) advantage over his teammate Bratt, $7.875MM per season is likely the floor for any Meier extension, as Nichols says. Previous reports suggested Meier was looking for north of $9MM per season when still a member of the San Jose Sharks, but Nichols surmises that may be the max on his negotiation given the comparable to Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov, who signed a five-year deal for $9MM per season in 2021.
Anything north of $9MM, which now seems unlikely for Meier, would make him the highest-paid player on the team ahead of defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Meier, while he obviously comes with an esteemed scoring pedigree, didn’t mesh as well as some hoped in New Jersey with 14 points in 21 games down the regular-season stretch.
A $9MM cap hit would also leave New Jersey with about $17.4MM in cap space to fill eight roster spots – seven among forwards and one on defense, potentially replacing (or re-signing) pending UFA Ryan Graves.