All part of the plan, apparently.
After the three hit unrestricted free agency on Friday, all three of ’em were quickly brought back.
The details, per the club:
— Bennett signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $725,000.
— Merrill signed a two-year, $2.275 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $1.137M.
— Smith-Pelly signed a two-year, $2.6 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $1.3M.
Bennett, acquired at the draft from Pittsburgh, will get a fresh start with the Devils after several injury-plagued seasons with the Pens.
Merrill, currently sidelined following major shoulder surgery, only played in 47 games last year due to a variety of injuries. He’s looking to rediscover the form shown during impressive rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.
Smith-Pelly, 24, was acquired by the Devils from Montreal for Stefan Matteau on February 29, 2016. He set new career highs across the board with 14 goals and 25 points in 64 combined games this season. He notched eight goals and five assists in 18 games after his trade to New Jersey.