Newark, NJ – New Jersey Devils’ General Manager, Tom Fitzgerald, surely has a priority list in terms of his pending free agents. Rightfully so, as he has two pending restricted free agents in Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt who are sure to command big deals. However, those are just two of a whopping 13 contracts Fitzgerald has to get sorted out. Here’s what we’re hearing on pending unrestricted free agents Erik Haula, Ryan Graves, and Damon Severson.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported yesterday that the Devils have already slid a contract across the table to Bratt and his camp. That contract is said to have a max term of eight years. The average annual value is unknown, but it’s anticipated to be a larger number.
As for Meier, his agent Claude Lemieux, and Fitzgerald, they’re underway with contract negotiations as we speak. There’s anticipation that Meier’s price will come in larger than Bratt’s, and there’s an outside chance they both will earn more than Jack Hughes. Until those two situations are dealt with, it doesn’t appear any other dominos will fall.
Haula & Graves
Speaking with Allain Roy, the agent of Haula and Graves, we did get a little clarity on the situations regarding his two clients.
The Devils and Haula have had some preliminary talks. Haula has expressed his desire to return, and Fitzgerald has been open about wanting him back as well.
When asked if the Devils have reiterated their desire to retain Haula recently, Roy said “Yes. Just figuring out what that would look like for now.”
The discussions between Haula, Roy, and Fitzgerald have just gotten underway. It’s hard to imagine this one doesn’t get figured out.
As expected, Graves’ future in New Jersey isn’t as clear or optimistic.
“I’ve loved my time here (in New Jersey),” Graves expressed on breakup day. “It was great that this team is going to be good. You never know what free agency is gonna bring. But there’s a business side of things and I understand that. We’ll see.”
The 28-year-old defenseman sounded like a man who knew his time was up in New Jersey. Graves’ agent wasn’t any more optimistic than his client.
“They need to figure out if they would have room and a lot will need to happen before they know,” Roy stated.
With the arrival of Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec knocking on the Devils’ door, you could see a situation where this one doesn’t work itself out.
As we reported yesterday, the Columbus Blue Jackets have already expressed interest in Severson. That was before they went out and acquired Ivan Proavrov. However, that doesn’t mean they’re now uninterested in Severson’s services as Provorov is a left shot and Severson a right. The two could be complimentary to each other on Columbus’ blueline.
After checking in with Severson’s agent, his camp is unsure what teams have checked in on his availability nor do they have a sense of if New Jersey wants him to return or not. It sounds like as of right now, talks haven’t even begun.
It’s still early in the offseason, but free agency is just 23 days away. The situation remains fluid.
Be sure to like New Jersey Hockey Now’s Facebook page and follow us on Twitter: