Nino Niederreiter

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Wild salary cap outlook with Granlund, Niederreiter signed

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The Minnesota Wild are a fascinating team to observe, especially after several players received a shot in the arm playing under Bruce Boudreau.

While the team still needs to settle matters with RFA Marcus Foligno, GM Chuck Fletcher navigated the choppy waters of a challenging off-season, dealing with the expansion draft and finding fair compromises with Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund.

Now that Fletcher avoided arbitration hearings with Niederreiter and Granlund, this seems like a good time to take a wider look at the Wild’s salary structure. In doing so, we’ll see quite the mix of good, bad, and uncertain.

Crossing their fingers

There’s no sense ignoring the twin elephants in the room: matching $7.54 million cap hits for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which don’t run out until after the 2023-24 season. As of this writing, Suter is 32 and Parise is 33.

The debates regarding Suter’s ultimate value seem like they’ve died down in recent years, likely because he doesn’t get the same Norris hype that he once did. Right now, it seems like he’s in a reasonable spot, especially since his workload is at least trending toward something more reasonable. He averaged 26:55 TOI in 2016-17 after receiving between 28:36 in 2015-16 to a ridiculous 29:25 in 2013-14. In the grand scheme of things, Suter is fine, though Boudreau would be wise to continue to spead the wealth to Minnesota’s other defensemen.

After many years of outstanding work, Parise now stands as arguably an even bigger concern than Suter.

This is a situation where one must consider value, as Parise is still a fine player; injuries are the main reason he didn’t fall in his typical 25-goal range.

Other signs inspire a bit more concern. His per-game point average was just .61 last season compared to his career average of .8. Parise also didn’t shoot as often (2.8 vs. 3.39 for his career) and has been less of a possesion driver in the past two seasons.

Maybe some of those 2016-17 struggles were injury-related, but it’s tougher to ignore such worries when Parise makes so much money, for so long.

Not every costly veteran sets off alarms, though.

Mikko Koivu enjoyed such a resurgence last season that he was a Selke finalist, but that $6.75M still feels less foreboding when you realize it expires after 2017-18. Maybe he’d take a discount to help his long-time team compete?

Strong deals

Chalk up Granlund at $5.75M and Niederreiter at $5.25M to good-to-great deals.

The Wild’s most promising contract likely goes to Devan Dubnyk, however. At $4.33M, Dubnyk’s delivered at-or-near-elite goaltending for Minnesota. At 31, there’s some reason to expect an eventual decline … but that’s some strong value on paper.

Naturally, goalies are an unpredictable lot, but Minnesota’s outlook has come a long way since the end of the Niklas Backstrom era.

Eric Staal‘s brilliant rebound season makes his $3.5M look like a steal, and at 32, there’s a solid chance that it will remain that way for the two years that cover his current deal.

Mysteries

There are some fascinating situations in Minny.

They saved money in sending Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville to Buffalo for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Even so, Ennis has had serious injury issues, making his $4.6M look a bit risky. Then again, what if Boudreau once again revitalizes a flawed talent?

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker both eyeball RFA statuses after this season, while Charlie Coyle seems like he could go either way on his $3.2M deal. It also remains to be seen if Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin can take that “next step.”

***

Not that long ago, the Wild seemed to be stuck in limbo.

To the credit of Fletcher, Boudreau, and some emerging talents, things look a lot more promising today. The Wild have about $4.8M in cap space according to Cap Friendly, and while Foligno is likely to eat up some of that, there’s at least breathing room there.

It’s not a perfect situation, yet the Wild stand as a reasonably viable contender … though they haven’t yet enjoyed the sort of deep playoff push you’d expect with all of that spending.

Wild avoid arbitration, sign Mikael Granlund for three years

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The Minnesota Wild faced some serious challenges this off-season, particularly in potential salary arbitration hearings. They’ve taken care of the big obstacles in impressive ways.

Mere days after signing Nino Niederreiter to a five-year, $26.25 million contract to avoid arbitration, the Wild found common ground with another rising star forward in Mikael Granlund. In Granlund’s case, he gets a higher cap hit ($5.75 million) that only covers him for three seasons.

In total, Granlund’s three-year contract is worth $17.25 million.

Specifically, the 25-year-old receives $5.25M in 2017-18, $5.5M in 2018-19, and $6.5M in 2019-20.

After showing flashes of brilliance through his first four years in the NHL, Granlund blew away his previous totals, scoring 26 goals and 69 points.

“Mikael has been an important part of our club for the last five years, and he showed a great amount of growth with an impressive performance last season,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. “People across the League are now surely aware of what our management group has always known: Mikael has a tremendous level of talent and skill. Coupled with his excellent work ethic and tremendous character, we know he’ll play a large role in the future success of our team, and we’re thrilled to have him under contract moving forward.”

Much like Niederreiter, Granlund may (reasonably) claim that his best years are in front of him.

This covers the headliners for the Wild, though they still need to strike a deal with RFA Marcus Foligno.

This also appears to be another summer where most teams avoid the more harrowing aspects of arbitration:

After re-signing with Wild, Niederreiter says best is yet to come

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With two early-August salary arbitration hearings looming, it seemed like the Minnesota Wild were aiming to re-sign one known quantity (Nino Niederreiter) and one forward with a bit more mystery (Mikael Granlund).

After all, with three consecutive 20+ goal seasons in mind, the Wild already knew they were getting someone very productive in Niederreiter, who avoided arbitration via a five-year, $26.25 million deal this past weekend.

Then again, Niederreiter is just 24, and he managed such impressive numbers despite averaging just 15 minutes and four seconds of ice time per game in 2016-17. With that in mind, the Swiss scorer is quite reasonable in claiming that he probably hasn’t peaked just yet, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

“I definitely haven’t had my best season yet,” Niederreiter said. “Even last year, I don’t think everything went perfectly smooth. There’s always been stretches during the season where I don’t find the score sheet, and that’s definitely something which I want to improve. My big goal is to get 30 in this league.”

With the likes of Jason Pominville leaving town and Zach Parise aging rapidly, it really only makes sense for Bruce Boudreau to lean more on younger scorers such as “El Nino.”

Even at his current production level, $5.25M per season isn’t such a bad deal for Niederreiter, yet just about every indication is that he’s ready to seize a serious opportunity.

Boudreau seems to realize this need to elevate Niederreiter, Granlund, and even Marcus Foligno, referring to them as “the glue that’s going to hold us together.” Every indication is that he should stick to a plan of giving more chances to Niederreiter, whose next aim is to generate 30 goals in a single season.

MORE: Wild still have work to do after re-signing Niederreiter.

Wild re-sign Niederreiter to five-year deal worth $26.25 million

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There had been positive developments in the contract situation involving the Minnesota Wild and forward Nino Niederreiter.

Initially, it had been reported Sunday evening that the two sides were close to a deal.

A few minutes later, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the Wild had re-signed Niederreiter to a five-year deal, worth a total of $26.25 million. The club has since confirmed that.

The two sides avoid an arbitration hearing scheduled for Thursday.

“Nino has had a big impact on our club during the last four seasons and we’re very happy to know that will continue in the future,” said Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher.

“He’s grown into his role as one of the offensive leaders of this group and his shot and net-front presence will continue to play a major role in our team’s success. Nino has a great attitude and personality, and we know our fans will be as happy as we are about this news.”

The 24-year-old Niederreiter has reached or gone above the 20-goal mark in each of his last three seasons with Minnesota, scoring 25 goals and 57 points — both career bests — last season.

Fletcher has been open to getting Niederreiter and fellow restricted free agent Mikael Granlund — his arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday — signed to deals in the three- to five-year range.

Wild GM wants long-term deals for Granlund, Niederreiter

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Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher admits that contract negotiations are “plodding along” with RFAs Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. Even so, Fletcher noted to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo that salary arbitration hearings might serve as just the sort of deadlines the Wild need with the two rising offensive talents.

As a reminder, Niederreiter’s hearing is slated for Aug. 3 and Granlund is scheduled for one day later, on Aug. 4.

Fletcher told Russo that he expects something similar to what Viktor Arvidsson worked out with the Nashville Predators, at least when it comes down to figuring out a fairly long deal around the time of a hearing.

“We’re open to any angle,” Fletcher said, referring to a term of three, four or five years. “I guess anything’s possible, but somewhere in that three- to five-year range would probably work well for everybody. That’s not to preclude a longer deal, but that’s not where the focus has been on our end.”

Plenty of recent deals for comparison

It’s easy to imagine Fletcher crossing his fingers that the Granlund and Niederreiter deals echoed Arvidsson’s from a cap perspective; Arvidsson’s only getting $4.25 million (though for seven years), while Russo notes that Granlund and Niederreiter are at least asking for more than $6M per year.

Of course, when it comes to hearings and really other negotiations, the asks from players tend to be high while teams tend to go low.

A realistic number is likely to fall somewhere in between, and if nothing else, the sides have a decent array to work with. It remains to be seen if the Wild aim for something more like Arvidsson’s $4.25M, Mika Zibanejad‘s $5.3M over five seasons, or a different dollar amount + term.

Pondering their value

Naturally, both forwards bring different arguments to the table.

Niederreiter is riding three consecutive 20+ goal seasons, setting new career-highs with 25 goals and 57 points in 2016-17. Granlund, meanwhile, is a bit more like Arvidsson in that he greatly improved upon previous career bests; in Granlund’s case, he scored 26 goals and 69 points. While Niederreiter has a longer track record, some might view Granlund as a higher “ceiling” guy.

The bright side is that the Wild have some cap space to work with. Cap Friendly estimates their cap space at $15.79 million before signing Granlund, Niederreiter, and Marcus Foligno as RFAs. As a team aiming to contend, they’ll want some wiggle room to work with, but at least the situation isn’t too dire.