Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils ink Michael McLeod to a one-year contract. It’s worth $1.4 million.
McLeod was part of the Devils trio that included Nathan Bastian and Jesper Boqvist who went unqualified on Friday. Instead, the Devils locked Bastian and now McLeod up on day one of free agency.
McLeod evolved into one of the better defensive bottom-six forwards last season. In his fifth NHL season, McLeod registered a career-high 26 points scoring four goals and 22 assists in 80 games. McLeod’s bread and butter is his ability to win draws in the faceoff dot. The Mississauga, Ontario native recorded a career-best face-off percentage at 60.6%. As one of the Devils’ best penalty killers, McLeod’s ability to win face-offs among the NHLs best ranks him third in the NHL behind only Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews (63.1%) and Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron (61.1%).
In the playoffs, McLeod elevated his game scoring two goals and six points in 12 games. He won 56.9% of faceoffs.
McLeod was drafted by the Devils in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, 12th overall. In 242 career NHL games, McLeod tallied 19 goals and 66 points in his five-year career.
Despite signing a one-year contract, McLeod expressed his desire to remain with New Jersey long-term.
“We obviously want to be here,” McLeod said in a conference that included Bastian. “For me, my goal is to be here long term and we’re really excited with the team we got now.”
At the ripe age of 25 years old, McLeod still has a little bit to prove. His defensive game appears top-notch following the 2022-23 season, however, he needs to prove consistency. Signed for just one more season, McLeod is betting on himself this season so he can cash in with New Jersey long-term.
“This is where I want to be,” McLeod explained. “I guess a little bit of (signing for just one year) is betting on myself and betting on our team. I think we’re gonna have a great team next season. This is where I want to be long-term.”