The New Jersey Devils have signed restricted free agent forward Michael McLeod to a two-year contract today, that will carry an average annual value of $975K. The deal pays McLeod $950K in 2021-22 and $1.0MM in 2022-23.
McLeod, 23, was the 12th overall pick in 2016, but only really established himself as a full-time NHL player earlier this year. In 52 games with the Devils, the speedy forward recorded nine goals and 15 points. Though those numbers obviously don’t pop off the page, it’s McLeod’s skating ability and versatility that should still excite fans.
He will likely never become a dominant offensive presence, but McLeod stepped into a bottom-six center role this season and looks like he will become a fixture there. Given the toughest deployment on the team and played regularly on the penalty kill, if he can continue to improve his defensive ability there’s an obvious fit for him behind the more offensive young centers in New Jersey. He’ll still have to provide some scoring depth, but given he’s earning just $975K, it doesn’t have to be much.
Interestingly, this contract actually likely increases the chance that Seattle would select McLeod if left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. The fact that the Devils got it done this early (and this cheaply), suggest that he will be one of the forwards protected.