The Minnesota Wild made a significant move on Tuesday night when they announced the signing of prospect Matt Boldy to a three-year entry-level contract following the conclusion of his season at Boston College. The contract carries a $925,000 AAV, including bonuses in years two and three of the deal that will mount to an additional $600K according to Michael Russo (‘Minnesota Wild trade deadline news: Matt Boldy signing entry-level deal’, the Athletic, 03/30/2021). It is definitely exciting news for the team and fans alike.
The youth on the team continues to strengthen which is the polar opposite of the past as the Wild have lacked talent from their young players for years. The promising forward prospect will report to the Iowa Wild where he will begin his professional career. There is no doubt that the Wild will call him up at some point to get him into the mix and hopefully sooner than later.
In the end, general manager Bill Guerin was willing to burn the first year of his contract which was likely due to their desire to add him to the roster and Boldy’s desire to turn pro. After the recent stretch of games that have been underwhelming, a player like Boldy could be a huge addition to the roster and could have been a factor in this addition. The Ian Cole trade was labeled as Guerin’s trade deadline move because he doesn’t want to move futures, but the addition of a young prospect could also be labeled his trade deadline acquisition that doesn’t require moving an asset for a rental.
The Wild originally didn’t want to burn the first year which means it would be a fair assumption that there was pressure from Boldy’s camp which is completely understandable. The Wild’s other options included signing him to an ELC that begins next season and an ATO to Iowa or return to Boston College for his junior season.
Despite the Wild’s preference being the second option which was to sign him to an ELC for 2021-22, they ended up burning the first year of his deal. I think this was the right call and rewards the team for their success as this will be a huge addition for a playoff run.
The Wild drafted Boldy 12th overall in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He finished his season with Boston College registering 11 goals, 20 assists, and 31 points in 22 games. He also was a point-per-game player in the World Juniors for Team USA where he registered 7 points in 7 games including an unbelievable between the legs goal.
Earlier this month, it was announced Boldy was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award which is a prestigious honor given to the top player in the NCAA. He has been phenomenal and is bound to make an impact for the Wild going forward.
Looking Ahead: Where Does Boldy Fit In? A Trade in the Forseeable Future?
The biggest question moving forward is where he fits in the lineup. The Wild didn’t sign Boldy to not play him this season or give him a bottom-six role. At the very least to try it out at the start, he should get a look in the top-six with wingers Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, and one of Jordan Greenway or Mats Zuccarello.
The issue is that they need to take someone out of the lineup to open a spot for Boldy. I just don’t think the Wild would take rookie Nico Sturm out of the lineup who has had a very underrated season and it just wouldn’t be the right decision. Center Nick Bonino can’t be taken out because of his excellence in the face-off circle which has kept the Wild afloat in that regard. This leaves us with Marcus Johansson or Victor Rask which would be fine, but just doesn’t seem likely which could hint at a trade in the foreseeable future ahead of the 2021 Trade Deadline.
If the Wild want to unload the final season of Rask’s contract this offseason, making him a healthy scratch for the remainder of the season to make a spot for Boldy just doesn’t make sense unless they absolutely have to. This means they need to trade a player like Johansson, Rask, or even Bonino to open up a spot for Boldy.
If not, the other option is that Boldy draws in and players like Johansson and Rask take turns coming in and out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
First things first, he is exempt in the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft. There is no need to worry about protecting him or anything surrounding the draft. The result of burning the first year of his contract is that he will be one year closer to a big contract which could be worrisome for the Wild who are already going to have cap issues going forward with the extensions of Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek this summer. Likewise, both Greenway and Kaapo Kahkonen are arbitration-eligible and will need a contract extension in the summer of 2022.
This, however, is a very good problem to have. The Wild have a bright young core and have successfully built this team for the future with all this talent among the youth. For a team that has been built to depend on the veterans, it a refreshing new outlook.
Aaron Heckmann is a journalism & broadcasting student. He covers the Wild for The Hockey Writers & Zone Coverage’s 10krinks. His data-driven articles are focused on solving problems, telling stories, and discovering unique storylines. Find him on Twitter @aaron_heckmann.