After Tom Fitzgerald made three organizational moves today, many expected the next news would be about making a big acquisition, such as Johnny Gaudreau - who the Devils have been tied to all day. Well, a bit past 6:00, news came out that the New Jersey Devils signed Mason Geertsen to a one-year contract. Geertsen had made it to unrestricted free agency, and I do not think that many people thought Geertsen would be re-signing today. Yet, at 6:21 E.T., Chris Johnston reported that Geertsen was staying in New Jersey. Ryan Novozinsky confirmed the news at 6:32 E.T..
Still, this is not a total surprise. Ryan Novozinsky reported a few weeks ago that Geertsen’s agent had preliminary talks with Tom Fitzgerald. The maligned enforcer seems to have a fair bit of favor in the organization. In 25 games played under Lindy Ruff, Geertsen had zero points and 77 penalty minutes in just 174 minutes (6:57 ATOI) of total ice time. On the other hand, I personally thought the signing of Brendan Smith left very little room for Geertsen on the roster - as there are a plethora of young forwards working for a spot in the lineup and Geertsen’s other calling card was his ability to fill-in on defense.
While most of the NHL has moved on from having enforcers that provide little to no skill, only mixing it up physically in a handful of minutes each night, Fitzgerald has shown commitment to his guy. You can only hope that he is a good locker room personality, because there is no evidence I have seen on a performance level - whether putting pucks in the net or stopping opposing teams from targeting talented forwards - to support Geertsen’s place in the NHL.
Additionally, fans are sure to not appreciate receiving this news after hours of waiting, listening, and refreshing to check on the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes. Players that add value to an NHL roster, such as Brendan Smith and Erik Haula, are great to hear about - but putting any work into this today rather than the past few weeks seems like an odd way to spend time.
In any case, leave your thoughts on Geertsen’s new contract below in the comments. Hopefully this is not the last move for the New Jersey Devils today, as it has previously been reported that Tom Fitzgerald will not meet with the media. There may be more to come, so keep that in mind when evaluating the odd timing of this deal.