The Minnesota Wild have little to no choice but to find tremendous value in their contracts moving forward. That’s the position general manager Bill Guerin put himself in when they bought out the remainder of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s contracts last offseason.
Now, as we look towards the 2022-23 regular season, the Wild have plenty of impressive deals, but who has the best value? It turns out they have many. Here’s a look at the 10 best contracts on the roster.
To be fair, we won’t be including entry-level contracts (ELCs) because those players aren’t allowed to sign multi-million dollar deals yet. That means, despite his value, Matthew Boldy and his $880,833 cap hit won’t appear on this list.
10. Jordan Greenway
$3 million AAV, three years remaining
Based on his goals and assists alone, Jordan Greenway’s $3 million cap hit isn’t far off market value. He had 10 goals and 17 assists in 62 games in 2021-22, a bit off his pace from 2020-21 when he had 32 points in 56 games.
However, Greenway’s value is often not seen on the score sheet. He plays excellent defense and has continued to develop into a more effective power forward, a rare breed in today’s NHL. At 25, he should only get better through the rest of his contract, likely making it of great value to the Wild.
9. Alex Goligoski
$2 million AAV, two years remaining
Alex Goligoski might not be the 18-19-minute-a-night defenceman he once was, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a great defender. At 37, he is still a very strong skater with a high hockey IQ, thanks to 15 years of NHL experience.
He’s a veteran who still plays at a high level and is also a role model for the young defenders in the organization, such as Carson Lambos and Ryan O’Rourke. At just $2 million for the next two seasons, Goligoski should provide fantastic value on the bottom two pairings.
8. Jared Spurgeon
$7,575,000 AAV, five years remaining
Today, this contract looks excellent, as Jared Spurgeon is one of the most underrated defencemen in the NHL. His strong defensive play doesn’t slow him down offensively, as last season, he registered 10 goals and 30 assists in 65 games, including three assists in their first-round playoff loss to the St. Louis Blues.
The only reason the Wild’s captain isn’t higher on this list is that he will turn 33 this fall, meaning he will be 37 at the end of his deal. It’s tough to know if he will be worth that type of money in his late 30s, so this deal has a fair amount of risk attached. Regardless, this should be one the Wild feel lucky to have for the next two or three seasons.
7. Mats Zuccarello
$6 million AAV, two years remaining
Just a year ago, some were saying that Mats Zuccarello’s contract would hinder the Wild’s plans moving forward. Now, his deal looks like great value after a 79-point season, which was more than his first two seasons with the club combined.
Zuccarello has found incredible chemistry with Kirill Kaprizov, and the two are magic together. That alone makes him worth every cent of his cap hit for the next two seasons. If he can put together another 70-plus point season, expect to see him much higher on this list next year.
6. Jonas Brodin
$6 million AAV, six years remaining
There are a lot of similarities between Jonas Brodin and Spurgeon, the biggest of which is that they are both criminally underrated in the NHL. Brodin is one of the league’s best defenders and plays much of his time against the opposing team’s top players.
On most teams, Brodin would be one of the best contracts on the roster, a true example of how well the Wild have done with their cap structure. There are some term concerns, as Brodin will be 34 in the final year, but the drop-off at that age shouldn’t be too bad for a player of his caliber.
5. Marcus Foligno
$3.1 million AAV, two years remaining
One of the best defensive forwards in the league, Marcus Foligno also had 23 goals and 42 points in 74 games during the 2021-22 season. He brings an element of physicality to his game and is one of the league’s best forecheckers.
He is the true definition of a two-way player and would likely go for much more than $3.1 million on the open market today. He plays his heart out every night, a key reason why he wears an “A” on his sweater. It’s a terrific value contract and will only improve if he continues developing his offensive game.
4. Marc-André Fleury
$3.5 million AAV, two years remaining
The Wild must be thrilled to have been able to re-sign Marc-André Fleury for another two years at a reasonable cap hit. The future Hall-of-Famer came over from the Blackhawks at the trade deadline and showcased his ability to still be a number one goalie at 37 years old.
Related: Wild Extend Marc-André Fleury
Getting a quality netminder for likely below market value will allow the Wild to spend a little more on rounding out the roster. With all their dead cap space moving forward, goaltending is not a position where Guerin will want to overpay, and this contract prevents him from having to do so externally.
3. Joel Eriksson EK
$5,250,000 AAV, seven years remaining
After his two-year bridge deal, management committed long-term to Joel Eriksson Ek, and after just one year of the deal, it’s looking like a steal. He’s one of the best defensive centers in the league and has shown massive improvement offensively over the past two seasons. Last year, he set career-highs in both goals (26) and assists (23).
Eriksson Ek is on pace to be a solid top-line center in the NHL, and at only 25, his prime years are ahead of him. The Wild have him locked up until he’s 32 at a fantastic price, and there’s a legitimate argument that he’s already worth more than his cap hit. If he ever gets the chance to play with Kaprizov in the future, prepare to see his offensive stats skyrocket.
2. Ryan Hartman
$1.7 million AAV, two years remaining
Ryan Hartman, for whatever reason, struggled to find a permanent spot on an NHL roster. After starting his career with the Blackhawks, he spent time with the Nashville Predators and the Philadelphia Flyers. Last season though, his third with the Minnesota Wild was the year he finally turned into an impactful offensive player.
Hartman recorded 34 goals last season – only Kaprizov scored more with 47. If he can show that he isn’t a one-year wonder this season, the Wild could have a 30-goal, 60-point player for less than $2 million for two more seasons.
1. Kirill Kaprizov
$9 million AAV, four years remaining
The Wild’s most expensive contract is also their best one; that’s how much Kaprizov means to the team. He has changed the look of the organization with his game-breaking speed and skill, scoring 108 points last season. For that type of production, $9 million a year seems like a steal, and he will be in his prime (25-28) for the remainder of this contract.
As we see more and more of the league’s best players signing for north of $10 million per season, getting one of the league’s premiere talents for a whole million less is fantastic. Kaprizov would make much more than $9 million a year if he were to hit the open market right now, and thankfully, Wild fans won’t have to worry about that problem for a long time.
Those are the Wild’s top-10 contracts ranked, and there are some really great value deals on this list, which is perfect for a team that can’t afford to be overpaying anyone for the next couple of seasons.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.