In the days leading up to the deadline to qualify his pending RFAs, New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald was coy about his plans with players such as Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Jesper Boqvist. Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised yesterday when the Devils chose not to qualify Bastian, Boqvist and McLeod.
As it turns out, this move was purely strategic on Tom Fitzgerald’s part. Greg Wyshynski, Amanda Stein, and James Nichols were among the reporters who had tweeted that the Devils were looking to bring some of those players back. Those reports turned out to be true, as the Devils announced that they have re-signed Bastian to a 2-year deal worth $1.35M AAV and McLeod for one year and $1.4M.
McLeod: "We really wanted to be here, and for myself I want to be here long term."— Sam Kasan (@samikasan) July 1, 2023
Bastian joked: "Fitzy knew we wanted to come back so he had an advantage there."#NJDevils
We shouldn’t be surprised that Bastian is back, as Elliotte Friedman reported last night the Devils were trying hard to bring him back. It is somewhat surprising that the Devils had to give him a second year and as much money as they did, but $1.35M is fair money for a player of his skillset and two years of term isn’t going to harm the Devils in the long run. The same can be said for McLeod as well at $1.4M for this season. Both players are role players who play their role and know the system. It’s not a flashy or sexy signing, but there’s something to be said about going with the devil you know as opposed to the one you don’t and bringing in an external replacement to fill that role.
Bastian’s deal will take him to UFA at the end of the 2024-25 season, while McLeod will be an RFA with arbitration rights for the final time after this upcoming season. With the Super Buddies back in the fold, the Devils have $7.457M remaining in cap space for the final five spots on the NHL roster.
One final note on the players non-qualified yesterday. NHL Network’s Mike Kelly reported earlier today that Jesper Boqvist will not be back in New Jersey. Time will tell how the Devils replace him on the roster, but hopefully, he lands on his feet elsewhere and gets an opportunity to show he’s an NHL player.
What do you think of these resignings? Are you happy that the Super Buddies are back? What else do you want to see the Devils do today? Please feel free to leave a comment and thanks for reading.