Tom Fitzgerald has made his first, second, and third player signing as the full-time General Manager of the New Jersey Devils today. Brett Seney, Ben Street, and Josh Jacobs are all returning to the organization for the 2020-21 season. This was announced on the team’s official website earlier this afternoon. All three contracts will last for next season and all three are two-way contracts.
It appears all three have also accepted contracts similar to what they made last season according to CapFriendly. Street was signed for $750,000 at the NHL level and $425,000 at the AHL level and he will make the same for 2020-21. Jacobs will still make $700,000 at the NHL level, but his AHL salary was increased from $85,000 to $130,000. Seney’s entry level contract ended so he no longer has any bonuses; his NHL salary will be $700,000 and his AHL salary received a big raise from $70,000 to $250,000. Street and Jacobs were pending unrestricted free agents and Seney was a pending restricted free agent. They will return to those free agent statuses after these contracts end.
All three players primarily played with the Binghamton Devils in the AHL last season. They did quite well for the B-Devils. Jeff and his panel named Jacobs the team’s top defensemen and Seney as the team’s top forward. It is fitting that Jacobs and Seney received raises for their minor league salary; rewarding their results with Binghamton last season. The veteran Street was the team’s Man of the Year and their initial representative to the 2020 AHL All Star Game. He was paid handsomely by AHL standards to come to Binghamton. Clearly, he did well enough to want to bring him back and it is good to see a player want to come back when he could have received a similar deal from other teams. Jeff and others who follow Binghamton may correct me, but I expect Street to remain as the team’s captain for what is still a fairly young squad. As an assistant GM, Fitzgerald understood what was happening in Binghamton so he understands what these three can do for that team to keep them competitive in the AHL.
The impact for New Jersey is minimal. All three players were fairly deep in the depth chart and called up either out of necessity or wanting to see what they can do having seen others get a shot first. Street is 32, Jacobs is 24, and Seney is 24; I doubt they will develop to be anything more than what they already are. Short of playing way above expectations in training camp, preseason, and/or the AHL - if/when they even happen - I doubt either will see a lot of time with New Jersey. I can see either bring brought up due to injuries requiring deeper help into the organization. However, given the younger players with more upside in the organization at both defense and forward, either of these three will not likely be a first choice for a call-up when the season is on-going. These three signings were mainly for Binghamton.
That is a good thing. Not that the AHL team needs to be a powerhouse, but I do think it is beneficial for the prospects who need more seasoning and game-experience in North American pro hockey to be on a team that competes well with others. Getting bodied night-in and night-out could hinder a prospect’s progress. The good news is that, thanks to Fitzgerald, Binghamton did change how they took care of business during last season and the results were a team on the rise. They likely would have been a playoff team had the pandemic not end the season early. We shall see whether the Binghamton Devils can do it again if/when the AHL returns for 2020-21. Retaining Street, Jacobs, and Seney will certainly help with that cause. That each deal is for one season allows the flexibility for both sides to move on if things do not go as well as expected after next season. That is another plus. In my view, there is nothing to complain about with these three signings. They are really for Binghamton’s benefit, the AHL salary raises for Jacobs and Seney are well-earned, and they do not significantly impact New Jersey in any bad (or good) way.
I would anticipate a couple more minor signings over the next few days for the Devils. According to CapFriendly, with Brian Strait (who was on long-term injury reserve last year), Brandon Baddock, Dakota Mermis, and Zane McIntyre as pending unrestricted free agents, there are some holes to fill in Binghamton. Especially if either of those four wish to sign elsewhere. Filling those spots may mean offering some more NHL two-way contracts to bring in a free agent where an incoming prospect may not be available to fill in. Fortunately, Fitzgerald has plenty of room for contracts in addition to cap space with 34 on the books now and 41 after all pending restricted free agents are re-signed.
What do you think of the Devils re-signing Ben Street, Josh Jacobs, and Brett Seney for another season? Will they help Binghamton stay competitive assuming there is an AHL season for 2020-21? Do you expect more signings by Fitzgerald to be announced in the near future? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these three signings in the comments. Thank you for reading.