The first signing of July 1 for the New Jersey Devils is a minor signing. The Devils signed defenseman Eric Gryba to a one year, two-way contract worth $700,000 in the NHL. The terms have been reported by legendary reporter Bob McKenzie, first through Twitter:
Eric Gryba’s one year deal with NJ is $700K in the NHL, $300K in the minors but a guarantee of $350K.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2018
Gryba is a 30-year old, big right-shooting defenseman who became a free agent this year because Edmonton bought him out. This was an odd buy-out by the Oilers. As detailed by Baggedmilk at Oilers Nation, Gryba signed a two-year contract where he was paid $900,000 for each year. After splitting time between Edmonton (21 games) and Bakersfield (AHL, 24 games), the Oilers decided to take a $300,000 cap hit through a buyout rather than see the deal through or trade him for very little. Now, Gryba will be paid by two teams. It’s not a huge error by Edmonton but further evidence that they are not managed well. (Insert requisite one for one joke here now that I mentioned Edmonton’s bad management.)
The two-way deal further indicates that Gryba is exactly who he is: a depth defenseman. If you like size and veteran presence, then you may appreciate the 30-year old being 6’4” and 223 pounds. If you like right-handed defensemen, now the Devils add Gryba to a depth chart that includes Vatanen, Severson, Mueller, Lovejoy, and Santini. If you like offense, then you will not like Gryba. He has a whopping 64 shots on net in 61 games over the last two NHL seasons with two goals and six assists. His game is all about stopping dudes at the blueline. Check out Corey Sznajder’s report on Gryba after tracking him for several games in the last two seasons:
Ah, Eric Gryba. One of the most extreme players I've tracked on both sides of the coin. pic.twitter.com/oOwLRacnm0— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) June 21, 2018
That it is a two-way deal suggests that Gryba could spend most of his time with the B-Devils. He’ll be up in New Jersey if/when injuries happen To that end, that’s fine. No, Gryba does not really fill a need in New Jersey - maybe in Binghamton, he does. There is still very little to dislike about a one-year contract that is not even seven figures. It only becomes a problem if John Hynes and his staff thinks and plays him like somebody he is not. With Mueller, Lovejoy and Santini in the system, I do not think that will happen.
So Eric Gryba is the first Devils UFA signing of this year. Not a huge deal, but it’s happened. What do you think of the Devils signing Gryba? Do you expect to see him more in Newark or in Binghamton? Please let me you know your answers and opinions on this signing in the comments. Thank you for reading.