Ray Shero got the job on Monday, he's heading out to the Czech Republic soon to go to the World Championships, but he had a move to make. Renaud Lavoie of TVA tweeted this evening that Jordin Tootoo has been re-signed to a one year deal worth $825,000. Yes, during a playoff game on a Friday night.
At least with this, we know Shero is able to do things without drawing too much attention. Lavoie at TVA is pretty solid so I don't think this will turn out to be mistaken. A part of me does, though. Shero's first move with the New Jersey Devils roster, a roster that needs re-building, is to re-sign a fourth-liner to about $300,000 more than he's probably worth.
In a way, this was a reward of a contract. Tootoo did hit double-digits in goals for only the second time in his career.Tootoo averaged over a shot per game, so he wasn't a statue. He wasn't the worst thing on ice when skating with players better than he's usually with. For a guy I was worried was just signed to throw fists, that he only got tagged for eight majors means he was more than just an "enforcer" in an age where those players are being weeded out - and for good reason. Lastly, the Devils now have a right winger signed. They'll need about three or four more.
That said, I can't say I'm pleased about the deal. Tootoo is 32 and just shot at 13.3%. The last time he broke 10% in shooting percentage was back in 2007-08, his other ten-plus goal scoring season. Anyone expecting about ten goals from him in 2015-16 is likely to be disappointed. He's certainly not going to get any better. Furthermore, not a lot of good happened when Tootoo was out there regardless of his linemates. Per War on Ice, his Corsi For% of 44.3% ranked 26th out of 32 players last season and his relative Corsi% was approximately -3%. Historically, again according to War on Ice, it appears that he's only had positive Corsi percentages on really good Corsi teams - and that even isn't always the case. That meant a lot of #22 in his own end of the rink and Tootoo isn't good at all at playing defense. He can throw hits, throw fists, and chip in a goal or two, but that's all. That may be enough for a fourth-liner, but it doesn't help the team in other aspects of the game.
It wouldn't surprise me if this deal was already in the works and Shero, who knew him from his time in Nashville, just finished it off. I get that Tootoo battled through and had himself a fine season given his career. That's all well and good. But the idea is to get better going forward and this doesn't really fit in with that sort of plan. Assuming that the plan is to work to get Devils to be better than last season. More importantly, what Tootoo brings to the table can easily come from the sort of player that can easily be found around the NHL minimum. Even if he's relegated to the fourth line and have a limited impact on games for all 82 games, he's not going to make the fourth line that much tougher to play against or better for New Jersey. Even marginal improvements on that unit can help a team out and the Devils need all the improvements that they can get.
For Ray Shero's first move to be this one-year deal, I'm underwhelmed. Tootoo being re-signed isn't going to make or break the team, especially on a one-year deal. But it's also not going to help them too much. I would have preferred the Devils let him hit the market and find someone else to get at or closer to the league minimum to fill out a bottom six role. With this, I'd have to admit I'm more than a little worried Steve Bernier (another guy with a big Sh% season) and Scott Gomez will return under the same reasoning of "this guy did well despite a bad season for the team, so let's keep them around." We'll see if that comes to fruition. In the meantime, let's focus on Tootoo being re-signed.
UPDATE / CORRECTION: Good thing I put a question mark in the headline. According to Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice on Saturday, Lou revealed that he made the contract offer prior to Shero being named GM. The reason why it wasn't signed sooner was up to Tootoo. Carry on.
It's now your turn. What do you make of this news? Is Ray Shero's first move as general manager of the Devils a good one, in your opinion? Are you happy Tootoo will be back with the Devils next season? What do you realistically expect from him? Please vote in the poll, and leave your comments and thoughts about this deal in the comments. Thank you for reading.