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.”