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New Jersey Devils Re-Sign Erik Haula for 3 Seasons & $9.4 Million

As first reported by Kevin Weekes, the New Jersey Devils re-signed Erik Haula to a new three season contract. It is worth a total of $9.4 million and it has some trade protection. This is a quick post reacting to the new deal.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils - Game Seven
Erik Haula is remaining in Newark for 3 seasons
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Just before noon today, Kevin Weekes made a tweet in front of a picture of an eye. Weekes had news about the New Jersey Devils re-signing Erik Haula, hearing that it would be a three-year extension. Weekes was corroborated a little later by Devils beat reporter Ryan Novozinsky, who heard it was a three-season deal worth $9.4 million. Just before 12:50 PM, the New Jersey Devils made an official announcement: Erik Haula was indeed re-signed for three-seasons worth a total of $9.4 million. The contract carries a cap hit of $3.15 million. Per the Devils’ announcement, Haula will be paid $3.9 million for 2023-24, $3.15 million for 2024-25, and $2.4 million for 2025-26. James Nichols later tweeted that Haula’s first two seasons will have a no-trade clause and a six-team no-trade list for the third season. The initial question: Is this a good deal?

The answer: Yes. Haula was coming off a two-season contract worth $4.75 million and he was paid $2.5 million last season. The New Jersey Devils clearly liked what Haula did last season enough to bring him back and so that warranted a raise. A pretty hefty one for the first year but the reduced salary in the following two seasons makes the cap hit more manageable for the 32-year old center. It is a bit more than what Mike predicted last month for Haula’s next deal, but it comes in lower than what the twins at Evolving-Hockey identified in their model. I’ll touch on the contract in a bit, but I think it is fine.

Mike’s post about Haula is a good summary as any for what Haula did last season. I suggest reading it in full. I will summarize it further here. Haula did a lot of good things throughout 2022-23 for the Devils. He won faceoffs, he had excellent on-ice rates on a very strong 5-on-5 team, he killed penalties quite well, and he was able to play with and without Jack Hughes. The issues with Haula’s play last season was that he spent most of the season unable to bury goals - which went away by season’s end and the first round of the playoffs as he legitimately surged - and that he was utilized more than he should have been. He was arguably with The Big Deal for longer than needed and no power play unit needed Erik Haula on it. But those issues were minor to the value he provided: a center who could serve multiple roles and not leave you wondering if he is turning a corner like the guy he replaced, Pavel Zacha. Scoring goals against Our Hated Rivals in a playoff series win is a delicious banana on the banana split. Essentially: Haula was good for the team last season and he gets some much desired stability since he played for six different teams after being with the Wild for four seasons.

This leads me to my one minor criticism about the re-signing. I would have loved this if it was a two-season contract and not a three-season deal. Haula turned 32 in March. While he could maintain his production and shoot a bit luckier - 20 goals is possible, even 50 points - there is a concern that a decline could begin at some point. On a three-season deal, that could be while he is with the Devils. I do think that is reflected in the salary as it does decline with each season. Also with his no trade clause turning into a six-team list in the third season to give the Devils some flexibility at the end. That said, I get it. With a potentially rising cap, I do not think Haula’s cap hit is going to be an issue at all. Short of his play cratering, I do not think he will be an albatross on the roster. I just think two would have been more ideal for New Jersey. But Haula wanted to be here, the Devils wanted him, and if it meant giving him a third season to lower the cost and not need to move for an eighth team, then so be it. I am fine with it and I think the contract is fair for what it is.

What this means now is that the Devils are almost all set at center for the next three seasons. It will be The Big Deal, Nico Hischier, and Haula. How much Michael McLeod will be re-signed for will tell us how long he will join that trio down the middle. It also means one fewer free agent for Tom Fitzgerald to deal with ahead of next week’s Free Agency Frenzy. After trading Severson to Columbus, re-signing Jesper Bratt, and this signing, the Devils have $23.257 million in cap space with four UFAs and seven RFAs to go. This gives Fitzgerald a clearer picture as to how much he will have for July 1 and what he will need to do.

Maybe that RFA list will come down to six real soon. Less than an hour after telling Twitter about Haula, Weekes’ suggested an 8 by 8.5 deal for Timo Meier at a North Bergen Walgreens. We shall see.

In the meantime, I want to know what you think of Erik Haula’s new contract. Are you happy he is returning for the next three seasons with a cap hit of $3.15 million? Do you think his play last season justified his raise? Do you think he will play up to this new contract? Will Erik Haula go on to be the best Finnish Devil in franchise history? Please leave your responses, reactions, and other thoughts about Erik Haula in the comments. Thank you for reading.