Newark, NJ – There was a sense of panic among the New Jersey Devils fan base on Thursday when it was revealed that the team elected to take Timo Meier to arbitration. However, Friday morning’s presser with GM Tom Fitzgerald was just the dose of serotonin that fans in New Jersey needed. According to Fitzgerald, Meier wants a long-term marriage with the Devils.
The Devils elected for arbitration with Meier so that they could lengthen their negotiating window. Meier and the Devils may receive a date in July or August for an arbitration hearing. However, New Jersey and Meier’s camp can come to terms before their arbitration date which will eliminate the need of having one.
Both sides have been in constant communication. Both sides know where each other stands. The encouraging part about all of this is Meier telling his agent to work on an eight-year contract with New Jersey.
“Timo’s agent, Claude Lemieux, and I have been in constant communication and working through proposals,” Fitzgerald explained. “Timo knows, I spoke to him yesterday. He knows how much we want to continue this relationship long-term. He’s reiterated that to me, this is where he wants to be. He sees himself as a Devil and he asked his agent to negotiate an eight-year deal with us, a long-term deal and it’s music to my ears. So we’ll continue to kind of chip away at it. But the goal is to get Timo Meier in a Devils uniform for the next eight years.”
One of the hurdles that Fitzgerald explained in this situation is the salary cap. Ever since the Covid-19 Pandemic made a major impact on the NHL, the salary cap has been flat. The Devils GM explains that he doesn’t negotiate with the thought that the cap will increase because there’s no guarantee it actually will.
“There’s no guarantees that (the salary cap) continues to go up,” Fitzgerald said. “We all believe it will. But I can’t do business like that, wondering or planning on the cap going up 5% every year. Again, there’s no guarantee of that… I don’t get too caught up on what the cat’s gonna look like in three years because I live in today.”
There’s a sense that the Devils might be trying to work within a “salary hierarchy.” Instead, what Fitzgerlad appears to be doing is he’s taking a page out of what the Boston Bruins did when they had their core of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Co. locked up to team-friendly deals. The majority of the Devils core is locked up long-term. All of those contracts are looking like bargains at this point.
Now that Jesper Bratt’s long-term contract is signed, sealed, and delivered, Fitzgerald is looking ahead at his busy summer. Despite claiming there’s no pecking order, Meier is certainly the No.1 priority for the Devils at the moment.
“Our goal hasn’t swayed at all,” Fitzgerlad said. “It’s to ink (Meier’s) name onto a contract that keeps him here for the next eight years. It’s music to my ears and the organization’s ears that he said the same thing back to us which was great. That’s our goal. There’s no timeframe for that.
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