The Minnesota Wild have signed Eric Staal to a two-year contract extension worth $6.5 million, according to Bob McKenzie. The deal carries a cap hit of $3.25 million per season and will kick in next season. Staal was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Eric Staal agrees to terms with MIN on a two-year extension with an AAV of $3.25M, including $3.5M next season and $3M the year after that. He would have been UFA on July 1.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 25, 2019
The 34-year-old center is in his third season with the Wild and has been an absolute bargain for the team on his current three-year $10.5 million contract. His current deal carries a $3.5 million which is an incredibly team-friendly deal for the Wild considering he scored 28 goals and 65 points in 82 games in his first season in Minnesota before turning the clocks back and scoring 42 goals and 76 points in 82 games last season.
This season, Staal has taken a slight step backward but has still recorded 18 goals and 41 points in 62 games and should finish with very respectable totals nonetheless.
There was quite a bit of interest in Staal at the trade deadline but the 6-foot-4, 207-pound center felt loyalty to the Wild and wanted to stick things out with the club. While the team could have likely fetched a decent return for him at the deadline (as they did for Charlie Coyle and later Mikael Backlund who were both moved prior to the trade deadline) and though Staal could have probably earned more money on the open market, he opted to remain in Minnesota for the long-haul.
Staal has been as consistent a player as we’ve seen in the NHL over the last decade and a half with his only down season coming in 2015-16 when he’s score only 13 goals and 34 points in 83 games split between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. Unfortunately for Staal, that season was a contract year and ultimately cost him a big payday.
Staal and Wild Committing to Future
As mentioned, Staal likely could have commanded a fairly significant raise on his current deal but actually chose to take less money to remain in Minnesota while allowing the team to build around him moving forward. Few players in the NHL and in professional sports, in general, would willingly do so, but the Wild and the State of Minnesota have obviously treated him well enough that he felt no reason to explore other options.
The Wild made some major moves at the trade deadline, sending Coyle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Ryan Donato and a draft pick while also sending Backlund to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Kevin Fiala. They substituted the present for the future which wasn’t a bad decision considering their captain Mikko Koivu is out for the season with a torn ACL ligament and meniscus in his right knee.
The chances of the Wild making a deep playoff run this season were slim and opting to make a push for a quick retool instead just made sense on paper. Though Staal is in the twilight of his career, he apparently felt that the Wild could still give him a chance to compete at some point within the next two seasons.