Today was the final day for unsigned major junior prospects from the 2014 NHL Draft to be signed by their respective teams to maintain their rights. It is not exactly the biggest day of the offseason. Most of the top prospects picked in that or any other draft would have already signed a contract with whoever picked them. For those selected in the middle of the draft or later, this was a more significant day. The New Jersey Devils had three players to either sign or effectively let go today from 2014: winger Connor Chatham, winger Brandon Baddock, and defenseman Ryan Rehill. They only signed one: Baddock. Corey Pronman confirmed that Chatham and Rehill won't be signed.
The announcement of Baddock getting signed was put up by the Devils on their official website earlier this afternoon. As the post states, Baddock was signed to a three year, two-way entry level contract. That is a bit redundant; all ELCs are two-way deals. Anyway, the post also touts that Baddock captained the Edmonton Oil Kings last season and finished his junior career with 103 points and 480 penalty minutes in 255 games. Yes, Ray Shero looked at this group of three prospects where he essentially had to go "yay or nay" to keeping and decided to keep the guy with averages of 0.40 points per game and 1.88 penalty minutes per game in his WHL career. Needless to say, I'm not jazzed that Shero added some unneeded beef to a list of prospects on the reserve list that didn't need it. I wasn't jazzed when Baddock was the team's second sixth round selection of the 2014 NHL Draft and neither were the fans at the time. The level of jazzness is quite low surrounding this decision. In a word, I'd call this signing unnecessary. Finding players like Baddock isn't difficult at all and there's very little upside for him based on his four seasons with Edmonton. Alas, it is what it is.
Quite frankly, I would not have minded if all three were left unsigned either to go into the pros separately or to try to re-enter the draft. Ryan Rehill was akin to Baddock except he's a defenseman and played for Kamloops. At the time he was the team's fifth round selection both Brian and I noted he's the kind of defenseman that was fading out of the NHL. While he got an ATO and appeared in a game for Albany, Rehill never really proved otherwise. Chatham may be known as the "Guy Picked Instead of Brayden Point," which isn't entirely fair as a lot of players were picked before Point. But Chatham was another player described as a projected "energy player," the sort of prospect the Devils didn't really need at the time despite the fact he was a right winger. Chatham wasn't an enforcer or a bruiser or a PIM machine at all. However, he never really blossomed on offense, with his most productive season coming in his overage season between Flint and Windsor: 17 goals and 24 assists in 64 games. Needless to say, it begs the question of what his upside would be beyond just AHL depth. That can be said about Baddock, too. Chatham was more productive than Baddock and it's arguable that if any of the three had to be signed, then I would've preferred Chatham. But, again, I wouldn't be unhappy if all three were left unsigned as I didn't think much of their futures to begin with - or now in 2016.
The only other notable news of the day is that the Devils will receive a third round pick from Toronto in 2018, as reported by Luke Fox at Sportsnet. This is compensation for the Leafs hiring Lou; something that no longer exists but the rule was in place when the move was made. Toronto had to decide today whether to give New Jersey a third rounder for this year or in two years. Understandably, the thirtieth-place team in the NHL kept their third rounder for this year as it can't possibly be higher than it is now. The Devils will get an additional third in two years instead; that pick will most likely be lower than where Toronto would be in the third round this year. Hopefully, they use that selection in two years on a player they choose to sign within two years of picking him instead of repeating what happened with Chatham today. Baddock would still be signed by that point.
What do you make of this news? Are you pleased that the Devils signed Baddock? Should they have signed Rehill and/or Chatham? Should they have signed any of these three players? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these three players in the comments. Thank you for reading.