Katie Strang of ESPN New York reported this evening that Mark Fayne has signed a new contract with the New Jersey Devils. The contract is for two years for a total of $2.6 million. Strang elaborated on Twitter that the breakdown of the deal is that Fayne will get $1.2 million in the first season and $1.4 million in the second season. As a result, Fayne will not go to arbitration on August 2. He will remain a Devil for the next two seasons. I will not mince words; this is an absolutely wonderful signing by the Devils. One could say it's Fayne-tastic.
Fayne has his detractors, so let's go over what he just accomplished to establish that he's not some low-pairing player. In his first full NHL season, mostly at age 24 (he turned 25 in May), Fayne played significant minutes in averaging 20:11 per game in the regular season and 20:19 in the playoffs. Fayne wasn't sheltered in those minutes either. He played tougher competition at even strength than the other Devils defensemen according to Behind the Net. While Fayne didn't dominate his level of competition, possession was slightly more in New Jersey's favor when he played. That means he handled the level of play he faced over the whole season. We at In Lou We Trust thought Fayne was the team's best defensemen in 2011-12 and his 2011-12 campaign has almost definitely established his spot in the top four for years to come. All of this for less than $1.5 million per season is a superb bargain. Especially when you consider some of the numbers expected when Kevin looked at comparables for Fayne back in June. I was prepared for him to get paid closer to what Andy Greene gets, instead, he's going to make less than half while possibly playing alongside him.
Of course, we won't see Fayne right away in 2012-13. After the playoffs, Tom Gulitti reported that Fayne had to undergo wrist surgery and would be out for three-to-four months. It may not be until November at the latest that we see #29 back on the ice. His first few games back could be rough without the benefit of training camp and preseason. Still, the team is so deep with defensemen that they can fill in his spot for the beginning of the season. Besides, Fayne's new salary is so low that an absence for a month or two won't be an albatross on the books.
When he is available, or even earlier, the Devils may need to move some of their defensemen since they now have eight signed to NHL contracts. They also have a few defensemen prospects like Alexander Urbom and Eric Gelinas who can may make their case for a shot in New Jersey out of training camp. With Fayne's emergence in addition to his new deal, a veteran can certainly be moved at this point to address other needs in the lineup. I think Lou would wait until Fayne's back and it's closer to the trade deadline to make a moves like that, but one never really knows with this organization.
For now, let's focus on the very good news that is Fayne's new contract. What is your reaction to Fayne's new contract? Are you pleased with the deal? If not, what would you have liked to have seen (e.g. a longer term)? Do you agree with me that this is a
Fayne-tastic fantastic deal, or do you think this is closer to what Fayne deserves? Would you say that this the best deal the Devils have made in this offseason? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Fayne and his new two-year contract in the comments. Thank you for reading.