Patrik Elias has only played for one NHL team ever since his very first taste of the NHL in the 1995-96: the New Jersey Devils. Patrik Elias has grown to become not only a NHL player, but one of the best Czech players to ever play in the league. Patrik Elias has become one of the top scorers in Devils history and now owns most of the team's offensive records. Patrik Elias has been a key player for two Stanley Cup winning teams and two more that went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Patrik Elias has come close to leaving in the past, but he's always came back to New Jersey. Patrik Elias had a scare with Hepititis A and came back and played like a beast in 2005-06, reminding everyone in the world exactly how skilled he is. Patrik Elias has since been steady as steady can be, being an important contributor in all three zones of the rink. Patrik Elias has remained one of the most talented forwards to ever put on the red jersey with the black and white stripes even as the players, rules, coaches, owners, and league changed. Patrik Elias has been a leader, with and without a 'C' and has been one of the dominant possession players even at an advanced age. Patrik Elias has been named our MVP for the team for the 2011-12 and 2013 seasons; real impressive for a guy getting older.
Patrik Elias is 37 years old and he just re-signed a three year deal with $16.5 million and a no-movement clause. Tom Gulitti confirmed the news at Fire & Ice earlier this afternoon. Needless to say, this is excellent news. While most players don't age well into their thirties, Elias has been an exception. The guy was a top-ten scorer at age 35 two seasons ago and he was the team's top scorer last season. He remains an important, all-situations forward and he's proven he can do it at both wing and center (faceoffs excepted). Back in May, I didn't raise the question of whether the Devils should keep Elias. To me, it was vital that he would be retained. There were no other players like Elias in free agency and I doubt an Elias-like player could be traded without costing way too much. The real question was how much.
I said then I would be fine with Elias getting paid his 2013 salary for two seasons, or two years at $10 million. He compared very well to other older players as he has been an effective player. With this deal, he will get $5.5 million per season for the next three seasons. I think that may be a bit of an overpayment only because I'm expecting Elias to decline over the next three years to some degree. I doubt he'll be as good in 2015-16 as he was in the last two seasons, for example. I certainly hope it's a very gradual decline. I will say that he does play as well as he has been recently for the next two seasons, then this deal is worth it in my eyes. I will also say that I prefer the Devils over committing a bit in money and one more season in this deal than risking him to the market. So I'm ultimately OK with the contract; it's far superior to the other options available. Again, there isn't an Elias replacement out there. So New Jersey will stick with the legend and hope he continues to be legendary.
The Devils will eventually have to find a replacement, but for the short term, Elias can continue doing what he's doing - and we can continue to appreciate and cheer that effort. Since the contract will take him to age 40 and it has a full no movement clause, he's set to be a New Jersey Devil through 2016. I think it's fair to say this pretty much cements #26 eventually ending up in the Prudential Center's rafters. Even if there was no deal, I think it would happen but I don't see how it won't now. Patrik Elias is a Devil for Life.