Though contract negotiations appear as though they’ll be complex, it sounds like Minnesota knows what it wants to do with current RFA forward Nino Niederreiter.
As GM Chuck Fletcher told me last week, his preference would be to sign Niederreiter to a two- to four-year deal, although my guess is at the end of the day, it’ll be a two-year bridge contract.
This way, Niederreiter gives himself the ability to pile up numbers the next two years and then tries to hit a homer on his next contract.
The Niederreiter negotiations figure to be difficult. At 21, he’s got huge upside — as evident by his fifth overall selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — but has a limited body of big-league work to bring to the table.
After a nine-game cameo with the Isles as an 18-year-old and a ghastly 55-game stint in 2011-12 (where he infamously scored just one point and racked up a minus-29 rating), Niederreiter broke out in his first season with the Wild this year, scoring 14 goals and 36 points in 81 games.
In the playoffs, he proved to be one of Minnesota’s most dangerous forwards, going for six points in 13 games while notching the Game 7 OT winner against Colorado in Round 1.
So yeah, there aren’t many comparables out there for that.
If Niederreiter does go the way of the bridge deal, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of money he can get out of it. His three-year entry-level deal had an average annual value of $2.795M, but the majority of that was contingent upon performance bonuses. His actual salary averaged out to $870,000 per year.