Jesper Bratt doesn't have to prove anything
He has posted extremely strong per minute impacts for several years.
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By CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil)
After another arduous negotiation, the New Jersey Devils settled with Jesper Bratt on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. It was likely very similar to the deal an arbitrator would've awarded, but a nasty hearing was avoided.
Most on Twitter and elsewhere referred to this as a "prove it" deal.
In general, this is what people call contracts in sports that are pretty short and given to players for whom there is a reasonable degree of uncertainty about what their future may look like.
Sometimes it’s because a player had a fluky season (good or bad), sometimes it’s because their hype doesn’t match their pedigree (good or bad), and sometimes it’s role, environment, or team-related.
Bratt’s situation is none of these things.
At this point in his career, we can be highly confident that he is an exceptional player and a career NHLer.
His value to the Devils this year was not a surprise
Bratt was a theoretical stud-in-the-making over the last three seasons. His analytical profile indicated that he was producing at a star-level rate, but his opportunities and usage didn't give him enough runway to rack up counting stats or the confidence that comes with someone playing big minutes against top competition.
In fact, if you look at his progression in terms of overall value, there’s really nothing particularly noteworthy about this past season at all beyond his TOI.
So, had he signed before the 2021-22 season, "prove-it" deal would've been an apt descriptor. He had demonstrated efficiency of value, but hadn’t proven it could scale up when his responsibilities did.
But then, he did.
He already had superb net impacts, but the team needed something else from Bratt other than getting play moving the right direction this year; they needed him to carry the team on his back offensively while Jack Hughes was injured. With a McDavidian +0.61 xGF impact, that’s exactly what he did.
Since his focus was on the offensive side of things, the point totals that his detractors lamented finally rose. Although, their rise was less surprising than you’d guess.
The “production” this year wasn’t a surprise
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