It’s easy to talk about the chance to play with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, on a young team that clearly is on the rise — and at a world-class arena before fans eager to return to the franchise’s glory days.
And you can be sure New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald does all that.
But Fitzgerald, upon announcing Wednesday that the team had re-signed potential free agent Timo Meier to an eight-year, $70.4 million contract, said he had one other key selling point: all the state has to offer.
Fitzgerald said the state itself was a reason he was willing to gamble and bring in Meier at the trade deadline earlier this year — taking a chance on a player who could have tested the market July 1.
“You know what, I bet on New Jersey,” Fitzgerald told nhl.com. “I bet on what we have to offer players. I bet on our facility. I bet on the limited time traveling. I bet on the suburbs and Jersey City and Hoboken. And I bet on our team, just coming in and experiencing this.”
New Jersey is a hotbed for hockey, on and off the ice, Fitzgerald said.
“We’re showing people around the league that we are now a destination for players,” he said. “I have to give credit to our core players, who continue to lift us up and show the rest of the league that we are serious about putting a championship roster on the ice.”
New Jersey residents have been betting on the Devils for years — but even more so after their 52-win, 112-point regular season.
The team announced during the playoffs that it already has added the most new full-season ticket holders in the league — by far.
That area certainly was one of the reasons why Meier wanted to return — and certainly a reason why Fitzgerald was willing Wednesday to trade for Calgary Flames winger Tyler Toffoli, who is in the last year of his contract.
Could Toffoli walk away after next season? Sure. But the guess is that Fitzgerald feels the Jersey scene will be a help in keeping him.
After all, it worked with Meier.
“I hedged a bet on us — and I hedged a bet on what we can offer players — and we won,” he said.