The Devils made some further moves on the July 1st opening of NHL free agency, all in-house re-signings.
First, they got Jon Merrill inked to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1,137,000. He will make $1 million in 2016-17 and $1,275,000 in 2017-18. The 24-year-old defenseman was picked 38th overall in the second round of the 2010 Draft and has been in the New Jersey system since 2012-13. He has split time between the AHL Albany Devils and the NHL club, playing in 165 NHL games. In those games, he has 5 goals and 25 assists for 30 points and 64 penalty minutes. Last season, he played in 47 games with the big club and had a goal and 4 assists along with 28 penalty minutes.
The Devils also got Devante Smith-Pelly back in the fold for two years. The 24-year-old right winger’s contract will be worth an AAV of $1.3 million, giving him $1,250,000 in 2016-17 and $1,350,000 in 2017-18. Smith-Pelly, a native of Scarborough, Ontario, was acquired just before the trade deadline this past season for Stefan Matteau from the Montreal Canadiens. He finished 2015-16 with 14 goals, 11 assists and 25 points in 64 games split between Montreal and New Jersey. With the Devils, his stats break down as 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points in 18 games. He was drafted 42nd overall in the second round by Anaheim in the 2010 Draft.
The third player the Devils locked up was Beau Bennett. He signs a one-year, one-way contract worth $725,000. He was acquired by the Devils at this year’s Draft for their third round pick (77th overall – Connor Hall) from Pittsburgh.
Some of the key subtractions for the Devils today include David Warsofsky going back to the Penguins and David Schlemko departing for the Hurricanes. Both are defensemen, somewhat depletes the Devils on the blueline man-power-wise, but with the addition of Ben Lovejoy and the expected extended role that Steve Santini and Damon Severson are going to be taking, they will not being taking too much of a hit there.
One disappointing miss on the Devils’ part is Kyle Okposo not coming here and instead signing with Buffalo. I am not sure how close Ray Shero was to getting Okposo to stay in the NYC area, or if they even talked to him, but he would have been an excellent fit for the Devils. Instead he will be a Sabre for the next six or so years.
Overall, though, a good week for the Devils.