HomeNHLNew Jersey Devils News & Rumors: Ristolainen, Gostisbehere & More
New Jersey Devils News & Rumors: Ristolainen, Gostisbehere & More
June 16, 2021
Twenty-four hours in the past, I stated rumor season was slowly choosing up. Properly, it’s since modified fairly a bit. Within the final cycle of NHL information, we’ve seen the New Jersey Devils linked to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who they could have curiosity in buying by a commerce:
Ristolainen completed this season with 18 factors in 49 video games, his lowest scoring price in six seasons. Granted, he had a particularly brutal bout with COVID early within the season that certainly affected him the remainder of his 2020-21 marketing campaign. Nonetheless, there have been some vital pink flags in his recreation earlier than this season that ought to give Devils common supervisor Tom Fitzgerald severe pause about buying the 26-year-old defender.
Additionally, in his newest version of 31 Ideas, Elliotte Friedman wonders if the Devils can be involved in buying Shayne Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers if a sweetener had been within the deal. We’ll contact upon that, however there’s some upside to taking a flyer on him, as he looks as if a defenseman who’d profit from a change of surroundings.
Lastly, a few fast ideas on the Devils re-signing Nathan Bastian to a two-year deal.
Devils Should Steer Away from Ristolainen
This offseason wouldn’t be the primary we’ve heard the Devils and Ristolainen linked collectively. The curiosity appears to stay, and it’s not onerous to see why they could worth him. He’s 6-foot-4, 220 kilos and places up factors. However factors will be deceiving for a defenseman, because it’s not an effective way to guage how one performs.
One software that may assistance is objectives above substitute (GAR). Ristolainen completed this previous season with a GAR of -4.3, however given how poor the Sabres had been and the way dangerous his case of COVID was, it’s onerous to place an excessive amount of inventory into it. In his earlier three seasons, he completed with a complete GAR of 10.8, ranked 98th within the league for defensemen. It ranked that low on account of his struggles at even power, particularly defensively, as his even-strength protection was beneath substitute degree. The Sabres additionally gave him some extremely onerous assignments, however his outcomes had been lower than fascinating. Right here’s how his Corsi share (CF%) in opposition to elite competitors stacked up during the last 4 seasons (per PuckIQ):
P.c of TOI vs. Elite Competitors
There are a few issues occurring right here. The Sabres had been routinely caved in for 4 seasons in a row when Ristolainen was on the ice in opposition to elite competitors. Two, it makes you surprise why the Sabres would proceed to feed him minutes he clearly wasn’t able to dealing with. If that’s the Devils’ plan for him, they’re going to be fairly dissatisfied with the outcomes.
If there’s one saving grace for Ristolainen, it’s the facility play. His energy play offense has been value a GAR of 6.3 during the last three seasons, ranked Tenth-best amongst blueliners. The Devils’ energy play was terrible final season, so I believe he can assist enhance it a bit. However their deployment of him at five-on-five must be a complete 180 of how the Sabres managed his minutes.
The Devils can’t give Ristolainen first and even second-pair minutes. He’d must play a sheltered third-pair function and function an influence play specialist. Due to that, they shouldn’t be wanting to surrender any invaluable belongings for him. That’s very true when you think about he solely has one yr left on his deal. And if something, the Sabres ought to have to incorporate a sweetener for the Devils to tackle Ristolainen. In any other case, Fitzgerald can be higher off wanting elsewhere. There can be different names on the commerce market with the enlargement draft arising who supply rather more at even power than Ristolainen. And so they’d possible assist enhance the Devils’ protection rather more than he would.
Gostisbehere Matches Devils’ Wants
When the Flyers put Gostisbehere on waivers earlier this season, he appeared like somebody who would’ve been a worthy declare for nearly any crew. He ended up clearing waivers, which isn’t a shock given how the waiver wire labored this season. However despite the fact that a declare didn’t occur in March, the Devils can be clever to verify in now as a result of he does have an intriguing ability set that may match head coach Lindy Ruff’s system.
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Gostisbehere’s counting totals have slipped fairly a bit since he put up 65 factors in 2017-18, however there’s nonetheless an efficient offensive defenseman in him. He struggled in 2019-20 however had a very stable bounce-back this season, ending with a GAR of 9.1. That’s a bit beneath his anticipated GAR of 10.7, so he was even higher than his GAR signifies. (It makes you surprise why the Flyers positioned him on waivers, however that’s a unique dialog).
One factor that ought to make Gostisbehere interesting to the Devils is his effectiveness in transition. When the Devils employed Ruff, they made it clear they wished to play an up-tempo recreation. To try this, they want defensemen who can skate and transfer the puck up the ice cleanly.
Happily, Gostisbehere does that fairly properly. Not solely does he enter the offensive zone with puck possession usually (98th, 92nd percentile), however he additionally exits the defensive zone with possession at a really excessive degree (97th, 93rd percentile). He’s not a top-pair defender, however he may thrive as a second pair, energy play blueliner in Ruff’s system.
Friedman floated the concept of a potential sweetener concerned in a commerce. Gostisbehere has two years left on his deal at a cap hit of $4.5 million, which the Devils can afford with out bother. I doubt the sweetener can be something too vital, but when the Devils may also come away with a second or third-round decide plus Gostisbehere, that’d be a very good little bit of enterprise on their half. They add to their draft capital and get a participant who can legitimately assist their roster. So I believe it’d be sensible for Fitzgerald to inquire and see if there’s a deal available.
Misplaced within the rumor frenzy yesterday was the Devils taking good care of some housekeeping once they re-signed restricted free agent Nathan Bastian. The 2 sides agreed to a two-year deal that comes with a median annual wage of $825,000. Bastian completed this season with 10 factors in 41 video games and have become one of many crew’s greatest penalty-killers. He additionally had first rate defensive impacts at even power.
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With Bastian signed, the Devils at the moment are nearer to having met the enlargement draft requirement of getting two forwards underneath contract for 2021-22 who performed 40 video games the season prior or 70 video games the earlier two seasons that they will expose. With Bastian signed, it offers them an choice to show him for the enlargement draft on July 21. They’ll have to signal a pair extra RFAs (maybe Michael McLeod, Nick Merkley) to keep away from dropping a top quality participant to Seattle. So anticipate some extra housekeeping over the brand new few weeks.
That wraps up this version of Devils Information & Rumors. There’s prone to be a lot extra over the approaching days and weeks main as much as a busy July. Make sure that to remain tuned to The Hockey Writers for the most recent Devils and NHL protection.
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New Jersey Devils author for The Hockey Writers. Beforehand for Devils Military Weblog (2015-2017).