Devils Re-Up Nate Bastian

Nathan Bastian has been re-signed by the Devils to a two-year contract worth $1,650,000 ($775,000 in 2021-22 and $875,000 in 2022-23) according to Amanda Stein. He was to be a restricted free agent this summer.

The 23-year-old forward comes off of his best year at the NHL level, playing in 41 games and notching three goals and seven assists (ten points) according to Stein.

He was also a known physical commodity. Stein said that he had 136 hits to lead the team in that category this season. That made him two off the pace in hits to lead NHL rookies. He finished second behind the Montreal Canadiens’ Alexander Romanov, who had 138 in 12 more games played than Bastian.

He was drafted by the Devils 41st overall in the second round of the 2016 Draft.

Bastian told Stein during the May exit interviews: “Most nights we were playing against the top lines,” in reference to he, Miles Wood and Michael McLeod. “At the end of games, if we’re up, defending a 6-on-5, our line is probably out there. Earning that respect from your coach is everything. I started to feel as the year went on gaining the respect of your teammates and the respect of your coach. You wake up one day and feel like an NHLer. I think if you told me coming into the year, I’d be a regular, I’d say that’s a success for me.”

Stein mentioned the faith that Devils coach Lindy Ruff placed in Bastian, noting that “Ruff could rely on [Bastian] during the penalty kill and defending a lead in the final minutes of a game.”

As Bastian told Sam Kasan for a feature on the fourth line (or BMW Line as they are known) on the Devils’ website, “[a]s the year went on, we got more and more comfortable. Later in the year we learned to play 16, 17 minutes a night. At the start of the year I was getting nine, 10, 11 minutes. Which is fine. I think we became more responsible and I think we handled it pretty well.”

Subban Works SportsCenter as NHL Analyst

PK Subban, Devils’ defenseman and 2021 finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, has found an offseason gig.

The affable blueliner made his ESPN SportsCenter debut last Wednesday as a NHL analyst for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He will work for ESPN through the end of the playoffs.

The press release put out by the NHL notes that ABC and ESPN, along with “Turner Sports will take over national coverage of the NHL in the United States beginning next season, each signing a seven-year contract. The Stanley Cup Final will alternate between ABC and TNT, televised on ABC in 2022, 2024, 2026 and 2028, and on TNT in 2023, 2025 and 2027.”

In addition, the networks of Disney, “ABC and ESPN will televise 25 exclusive regular-season games each season. TNT and TBS will televise 72, including the NHL Winter Classic, the annual outdoor showcase on New Year’s Day.” ESPN will also “produce 75 national broadcasts each season and stream them on ESPN+ and Hulu, and stream more than 1,000 games each season on ESPN+.”

We have not really touched on the new broadcast contracts here on the blog, but it was confirmed back in May that Wayne Gretzky will be working as a studio analyst on the Turner broadcasts. While not really known as a “big” personality like Subban, Gretzky at least has credentials to his name. What he lacks in charisma, the “Great One” more than makes up for in name value. Even the most casual of hockey fans has heard of Wayne Gretzky. Whether that translates to “must see TV” remains to be seen, but Turner is at least trying to reel in eyeballs to their broadcasts by going for the big names.

Just don’t expect Charles Barkley or Shaq in terms of entertainment value.

Subban’s broadcasting spot on SportsCenter is an early preview of the synergy that the NHL and ESPN/Disney and Turner Sports will be able to provide. Hopefully that will continue and the networks will get bored with the league after a few seasons.

When his playing days are over, no one would make as good a TV personality as Subban. He is a likeable man and can give insight into what is going on on the ice. I can see nobody in the game today who would make a better analyst when he retires.

If Mike Babcock can get a job doing analysis on NBC, with his wooden delivery, then I see no reason to doubt that Subban can do well.

The aforementioned Barkley is a known hockey enthusiast. Shaq has even been honored by the Devils, being a native of Newark. That should help to connect the NHL and NBA, Turner’s main sports properties.

How the networks use their resources will, of course, decide how good the broadcasts are.