One of the summer’s most interesting arbitration cases has been settled.
After submitting their respective proposals earlier this week which reportedly featured quite the gap in salary, the New Jersey Devils and forward Jesper Bratt found some common ground on Wednesday morning before an arbitrator could make a ruling, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract extension worth $5.45 million.
It’s a nice sign that Bratt and the Devils managed to agree on their own accord. But while the 23-year-old is now locked in for the 2022-23 season, it’s still not a guarantee that he’ll be spending it in New Jersey.
Bratt has been popping up in trade rumors for the better part of the summer now, seeming increasingly likely to get dealt earlier in July at the draft when all 32 NHL teams convened in Montreal. No trade ended up happening, as any chatter surrounding Bratt fell silent before his arbitration filing was made public earlier this week.
Still, it’s odd that the two sides remain unable to hammer out a long-term extension after all this time.
On the surface, Bratt projects as the perfect player to fit into New Jersey’s emerging young core. The guy scored nearly 30 goals and flirted with a point-per-game pace last season on a terrible team before celebrating his 24th birthday, and made just under $3 million in the process, too.
As a play-driving winger alongside one of Jack Hughes or Nico Heischier, Bratt has all the makings of a coveted pillar in a talent-hungry organization’s ascent back to relevancy. And yet, despite all this, trade rumors and short-term deals continue to follow him around, casting Bratt’s future with the Devils into doubt with each passing season.
Today’s one-year pact offers some hope that this bridge could be mended. But the relatively low AAV also makes Bratt an even more attractive trade target as teams begin preparing for training camp.