Looking for a Potential Jesper Bratt Extension
To any New Jersey Devils fan, Jesper Bratt is a star without a doubt, and one of the strengths of a young team still in the process of rebuilding which has had its share of difficulties in recent seasons. However, for many other hockey fans in the league, Bratt may still be a bit of an unknown. A surprise to some would be that the young Devils forward is a points-per-game player this season, leading his team in points and second on his team in points-per-game at the budding star. Jack Hughes. On top of all that, Bratt has something else going for him: he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.
Bratt is in the final year of a two-year, $5.5 million contract, which carries a cap of $2.75 million, and turns 24 this summer. He will likely have one of two options this summer, either sign a transition deal that will take him several years to unrestricted free agency, or cash in and take a long-term deal. Of course, the Devils would like to keep a young piece of their core for the long term, but the organization will have to find the right number to slip Bratt into it, otherwise, as Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek suggested on their 32 Thoughts podcast earlier. . today, the Devils could also look to trade the striker for the right return. While a shorter-term two- or three-year trade or bridge deal is possible, let’s take a look at what a longer-term contract extension with Bratt would look like.
Even amid their rebuild, the Devils showed they weren’t afraid to spend, signing Dougie Hamilton, Jack Hughesand Nico Hischier to contracts carrying AAVs of $9 million, $8 million, and $7.25 million, respectively. Presumably, New Jersey would like to keep their hometown star, but they’ll have to watch out for the salary cap. While the organization isn’t struggling with those contracts just yet, it will need to continue to increase spending as its new build takes shape.
By extending Bratt, the Devils would likely try to keep the AAV under the team captain Nico Hischier at $7.25 million. That number might seem like a bit of a stretch for Bratt, but it might not be that far. That said, let’s take a look at some recent RFA extensions for comparison: Anthony Beauviller, William Nylanderand Nick Suzuki.
Anthony Beauvillier, three years, $12.45 million
Coming in with an AAV of $4.15 million, Beauvillier’s contract he signed this offseason shows what a floor for a Bratt contract could look like. At the time of signing, Beauvillier was the same age and had the same number of years in the NHL as Bratt, with similar production for the majority of their careers. The main difference between these players, however, is Bratt’s extraordinary breakout season this year, one that Beauvillier has not enjoyed. In their first four years, Beauvillier had 127 points in 286 career games, with Bratt having a reasonably better 130 points in 231 career games.
However, during Beauvillier’s same contract year, he had 11 goals and 21 assists in 65 regular season games, as well as five goals and eight assists in 19 playoff games. As impressive as that has been for Beauvillier, Bratt currently has 22 goals and 43 assists in 64 regular season games during his contract year, with more to come. Bratt’s dominant contract season would apparently put him well above Beauvillier’s $4.15 million AAV.
William Nylander, six, $45 million
After resisting for nearly two months and nearly losing his 2018-19 season, William Nylander finally agreed to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs on an extension in the fall of 2018. Due to his resistance, Nylander’s AAV on his contract reads differently than expected, coming in at just under $10.3 million for the 2018-19 season, and just under $7 million thereafter (CapFriendly). For the purposes of a Bratt comparison, we’ll consider it split evenly, at $7.5 million AAV.
A deal like Nylander’s would likely be the upper cap of what Bratt could sign and push him to $250,000 compared to Hischier and his cap of $7.25 million. Comparing their contract years, Bratt appears to have the edge over Nylander, who has 61 points in 82 games, a number Bratt surpassed, and still has 13 games left. What Nylander had, what Bratt didn’t, was a similar season the year before. In 2016-17 Nylander had 61 points in 81 games, virtually the same season he would have in 2017-18, but in 2020-21 Bratt would have 30 points in 46 games. Although Bratt’s 2020-21 season was shortened due to COVID creating a 56-game season, his points-per-game production was far lower than this season.
Given their similarities, it’s entirely possible that a Jesper Bratt the extension could look a lot like William Nylander’s 2018 contract.
Nick Suzuki, eight, $63 million
One final player to watch is Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens and his cap of $7.875 million. This contract would most likely be very difficult for Bratt to obtain, but some numbers are in his favor. Suzuki signed his contract when he was just 22 years old and after only two seasons in the NHL, which makes him a little different from Bratt. But, looking at the two years before the extension (or the proposed extension for Bratt), Suzuki had 82 points in 127 games, while Bratt has 95 points in just 110 games, and that still counts.
To Suzuki’s advantage, he’s gained considerable playoff experience over his two seasons and has excelled while there, scoring 23 points in 32 career playoff games, playing a key role in Montreal’s journey. to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals. While Suzuki isn’t a perfectly comparable player to Bratt, his contract can certainly have positive impacts on Bratt’s bargaining power going forward.
It’s hard to say what exactly Bratt’s contract will look like, with very few rumors so far and no fully comparable players. If New Jersey wants to keep him for the long term, it looks like the door is open for that, but keeping the salaries of star players and those of the rest of their organization under the long-term salary cap, tailoring salaries well among the existing contracts and closing a contract against similar players, like Beauvillier, Nylander and Suzuki, could be a challenge for both parties.
If a long-term extension isn’t in the cards for either side, the Devils are still in control, with Bratt as RFA, and can try to work out a bridge deal, trade him, or maybe even see what a deal-sheet, if one shows up, looks like.