Since the signing of Dougie Hamilton, the New Jersey Devils have kept their signings more minor. They signed defenseman Robbie Russo and forward Joseph Gambardella to two-way deals similar to what they signed Chase De Leo and Brian Flynn to on July 29. This afternoon, the Devils announced two more two-way deals for two players who were with the NHL team last season for a little bit: right winger Marian Studenic and left winger A.J. Greer. Both were retained for two-way contracts for one season with the minimum salary of $750,000 at the NHL level. Studenic will get paid $125,000 at the AHL level and Greer will get a little more at $130,000. Both will be restricted free agents after the 2021-22 season.
Here is a quick summary of both players. The Devils drafted Marian Studenic in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft. After one more season with Hamilton in the OHL, Studenic made his debut with Binghamton in the 2018-19 season. He has remained as a B-Devil except for a loan to his native Slovakia during the pandemic. Studenic made his NHL debut in April of 2021 and appeared in eight games. He scored one goal, registered one assist, took 7 shots, and averaged about 10:47 per game. With Binghamton, Studenic was (if I recall correctly) a middle-six winger and not particularly productive. He is 22, but he is getting closer to “What you see is what you get” as a player Greer, who was acquired from the Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac trade, only played in one game for New Jersey (his first NHL game since February 23, 2019) and only for 8:33. Greer has been more productive in the AHL - and he has primarily played there in his career. Greer is 24 so unless he is a fantastic fit or does something dramatic, what you see from him is what you are going to get. Neither even played a significant amount of time with New Jersey last season, much less made a significant impact. Neither really showed anything that warrants penciling their names into the NHL lineup for 2021-22.
The fact that both Studenic and Greer got these contracts speaks to where they stand in the organization. They are depth players on the fringe of the NHL roster. Both were restricted free agents so it should be no surprise that they would be re-signed. However, neither have been given deals that suggest they will play higher up in the lineup. Both Studenic and Greer will have to prove their worth in training camp and with whatever call-ups they do get. It is tempting to think they have a clearer pathway to the NHL since Nathan Bastian was taken by Seattle and Mikhail Maltsev was traded away. It is not so simple for either winger. The Devils still have Jesper Boqvist, Tyce Thompson, Graeme Clarke, Nolan Foote, Alexander Holtz, and Fabian Zetterlund in the system that could contend for a winger spot in 2021-22. They can still go and sign or trade for a winger given their oodles of cap space. This is not to say that Studenic or Greer are not worth thinking about. Just that they are far from getting a roster spot in New Jersey and their contracts reflect their status in the organization. Barring any changes in training camp or injuries, I would expect to see both of them in Utica more often than in Newark. It is something you may want to consider if/when you vote in our community poll for the 2021 Top 25 Devils Under 25 list.
In the bigger picture, there are now just two more players that General Manager Tom Fitzgerald will need to deal with before next season. Janne Kuokkanen and Yegor Sharangovich. They will certainly get one-way contracts and likely for multiple years. The Devils’ official Twitter account has been sharing some Sharangovich content. That suggests to me that negotiations with him are at least cordial. The Devils are in full control of the situaiton as neither Kuokkanen and Sharangovich were eligible for arbitration. There is no timeline for the team to get something done by other than training camp in September. Hopefully, we will get news on both of them being re-signed in the coming weeks. The Devils do not need to do anything more than that if their plan is to keep the forward spots open for their prospects. I would like them to bring in at least one more veteran winger to support the young core. They have the space to do so. We shall see if Fitzgerald can and does make that happen.
In the interim, I would like to know what you think about the Devils re-signing Studenic and Greer. Are you surprised they received one-season, two-way contracts for not a lot of money? Do you think either has a good chance of making the New Jersey roster outside of any injury call-ups? What do you expect from Studenic and Greer in 2021-22, if at all? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these two being re-signed in the comments. Thank you for reading.