This past Monday was the deadline for teams to qualify their restricted free agents with what is known as their qualifying offer. By submitting the qualifying offer, it allowed a team to retain the rights of a given player, rather than making them an unrestricted free agent free to sign with any team. The New Jersey Devils qualified Mark Fayne, Vladmir Zharkov and Matthew Corrente, by extending them qualifying offers.
First, Zharkov and Corrente are easy to deal with, as I don’t expect them to receive a contract for higher than their qualifying offer, leaving them both two choices. Either sign the offer or do not, and while Zharkov may look to play in Russia next season, I don’t think either will have a problem with the qualifying offers per se, as much as they may not see the opportunity for playing time in New Jersey that they might want. Beyond that, I don’t see anything really changing with the financial offer itself.
That brings us to Mark Fayne’s contract, which has recently gotten a little more complicated with recent news of wrist surgery that will keep him out 3-4 months. There has been a lot of analysis out there about the kind of contract Fayne should expect to get, including this one at the website In Lou We Trust, which was prepared before the injury was announced. Article aside, I think Fayne’s usefulness was often overlooked by Devils faithful, as he didn’t necessarily have gaudy numbers, but became a very good shutdown defenseman, alongside the underappreciated Andy Greene.
In the playoffs, the Greene/Fayne combo helped shut down the big lines of opponents in the first three rounds. While they slipped up a bit in the finals, Fayne still posted a +5 rating in his 24 games, along with three assists. Throughout the regular season, Fayne provides solid support around the net and utilizes his size against opponents. He’s playing his best hockey when he goes unnoticed, which is unfortunately why his mistakes usually stand out more than his normally solid play. His offensive game is also underrated as Fayne has shown the ability to get his shot through from the point and good passing skills as way.
Although the ILWT feature suggests Fayne might receive a contract in the neighborhood of two years and $5 million, I think the Devils should give Fayne a three year $6 million contract. The only thing potentially holding Fayne back come October will be his health, and while he is expected to be back in time for Opening Night, it could potentially decrease his contract slightly. I think some of the Devils fans and media overlook the contributions Fayne makes for the team. I’m not trying to make Fayne out to be a superstar by any means, but he should remain a valuable piece for the Devils for years to come.
COMING SOON: A look at the Devils 4th line
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