Russo also reports that the deal carries an actual cash value of $950,000 in the first year and $1.05 million in the second. That tiny bump will be significant for Haula when negotiating his next deal, particularly if he goes to arbitration at that point. The 24-year-old will still be a restricted free agent at the end of this contract.
The agreement was signed in advance of Sunday’s arbitration decision coming in from Friday’s arbitration hearing. The independent arbiter was going to award Haula a one-year deal between the Wild’s submitted offer of $775,000 and Haula’s ask of $1.2 million.
This is a good deal for both sides. If the two sides went with the arbiter’s decision that was expected to come in at some point on Sunday, there’s the possibility that it costs the cap-strapped Wild a lot more next summer to keep Haula on contract if he has a solid year. (“A lot” to a cap-strapped team could be not that much from the outside. That $1 million AAV represents over 34% of the team’s remaining cap space before the signing.) This way, the team keeps Haula on contract for two years at a very affordable rate.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) August 2, 2015
Last season, Haula played 72 games (many of the missed games were healthy scratches), scoring seven goals and seven assists. That’s a step back from his six goals and nine assists through 46 games in his rookie year. His scoring rate at even strength was cut in half between those two seasons, moving from a 2.0 P/60 to a 1.0.
He’s tentatively slotted to be the team’s fourth line center next season, with 6-foot-5 potential rookie Tyler Graovac posing as his likely competition for the job. Graovac made his NHL debut last season and led the last-place Iowa Wild in scoring with 21 goals and 25 assists through 73 games.