The NHL season is right around the corner, and hockey fans are starting to get excited about their team’s chances of competing for the Stanley Cup once again.
With that, it’s time to look at and evaluate the contracts on the Minnesota Wild. There will be three tiers to place these contracts: a great tier, an alright tier, and a bad tier.
We will also not be dissecting one-year contracts under $1 million. There are lots of these contracts, and there isn’t much to say about them. They are very low risk in terms of price and duration. Therefore, players such as Nico Sturm, Jordie Benn, John Merrill, and Kaapo Kähkönen won’t be included in this ranking.
Kirill Kaprizov: Five Years, $45 Million
Some fans will be sad it’s only five years, but this contract is a significant win for the Minnesota Wild. This contract buys up Kaprizov’s 20s, so these will be the best years of his career. He is the team’s franchise player, and having him for the next five seasons is huge. For how tough this contract negotiation seemed to be, $9 million a season for a player of his calibre doesn’t seem too bad at all.
Joel Eriksson Ek: Eight Years, $42 Million
Eriksson Ek is an elite defensive centre who broke out last season offensively with 19 goals and 30 points in 56 games. He might not be a first-line centre, but to lock up the team’s second-line centre for eight seasons at a reasonable $5.25 million a season is tidy business by general manager Bill Guerin. He’s still only 24, so no significant decline is expected to occur during the duration of this contract.
Marcus Foligno: Three Years, $9.3 Million
Foligno is an excellent two-way middle-six forward who had 26 points in 39 games last season. Even at 30 years old, he should be able to live up to every penny of his $3.1 million a year salary, even though he isn’t afraid to be physical on the ice.
Ryan Hartman: Three Years, $5.1 Million
Hartman has established himself as a great bottom-six player in this team’s lineup. He’s a versatile forward who can hit and block shots. Last year he averaged a career-high 15:04 minutes of average ice time. Most teams would love to have a valuable depth piece signed for three years at a $1.7 million cap hit.
Jonas Brodin: Seven Years, $42 Million
Brodin has long been one of the most underrated defencemen in the league, and it’s time he starts getting the recognition he deserves. He is terrific in his own zone, can move the puck up the ice well, and exploded with nine goals in 53 games last season. His new contract kicks in this season and will likely keep him in the state of hockey for much of the rest of his career.
Matt Dumba: Two Years, $12 Million
Based on how some defencemen in the NHL have been getting paid recently, having Dumba for two more seasons at $6 million per is pretty good value for the Wild. He’s a flashy defenceman, capable of delivering massive hits and jaw-dropping plays. He could see an increased role this season with the departure of Suter.
Cam Talbot: Two Years, $7,333,334 Million
Talbot played terrific in his first season with the Wild. His .923 save percentage in the playoffs was almost enough to help them take down the Vegas Golden Knights. Under contract for another two years, Talbot could be one of the best bargain contracts in the NHL when it comes to starting goalies.
The Alright Contracts
Jared Spurgeon: Six Years, $45,450,000 Million
Right now, Spurgeon is absolutely worth $7.575 million a season. However, he will be turning 32 this November, and it’s tough to say what he will be worth when he is 36 and 37 years old. He is still the leader of the team and one of the best players on it; it just might not hold up well in the long run.
Jordan Greenway: One Year, $2.1 Million
Greenway exploded out of the gate last season but started slowing down a bit as the season progressed. He is someone Guerin clearly believes in, and he could become a great power forward in this league one day. However, with only one season left before becoming an RFA, the Wild will have to be careful how much they commit to him with all the dead cap space coming up for this team.
Kevin Fiala: One Year, $5.1 Million
This contract gives the Wild one more season of Fiala at a reasonable cap hit and RFA status next offseason. However, it seems like Fiala does want to get paid, and if he has a stellar season in 2021-22, he could demand a significant raise that the Wild might not be able to afford. If Fiala puts up 70 or more points in a full 82 game schedule, his next contract could be as demanding of negotiation as Kaprizov’s just was.
Alex Goligoski: One Year, $5.1 Million
Even at age 36, Goligoski is still a valuable defenceman on any team. He averaged 23 minutes of ice time a night last season, so he will surely help replace Ryan Suter’s workload on this team. One season is a low-risk commitment to see if he fits in well with the team.
Frédérick Gaudreau: Two Years, $2.4 Million
The Wild are hoping that Gaudreau will become a valuable member of their bottom six for the next couple of seasons. In a small sample size of only 19 games with the Penguins last season, Gaudreau had ten points, including three more in six playoff games. Two years is not a huge commitment, but only time will tell if he’s the player he was last season or not.
Dimitri Kulikov: Two Years, $4.5 Million
Kulikov was brought in to be a steady defensive defenceman on the bottom pairing and will get every chance to succeed in that role. Still, this is a little pricey for a player who had four points in 48 games last season. The deal also comes with a modified no-trade clause.
Mats Zuccarello: Three Years, $18 Million
It’s not that Zuccarello isn’t an effective player; he is, and he makes this team better. The problem is that $6 million a season for a 34-year-old winger with injury problems is a concern, especially for the next couple of seasons when the Wild will be dealing with a ton of dead cap space. Starting next season, Zuccarello has a modified no-trade clause, where he can submit ten teams he wishes not to be traded to, and, likely, Guerin will at least ask for that list.
Victor Rask: One Year, $4 Million
Rask has not yet found the offensive game in Minnesota that he had in Carolina. There were stretches last season where he got hot, but overall, he isn’t worth $4 million a season. This contract almost ended up in the alright category because it’s only for one more season, but to think about what else that $4 million could have gone to this offseason, it’s clearly a bad contract.
Overall, the Wild have a lot of great value deals on their roster. Guerin has to continue to find ways to avoid damaging contracts moving forward to survive the next couple of seasons of dead cap space. Still, early signs are encouraging that he will find a way to remain competitive.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.