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Wild GM Fletcher still has work to do after getting Niederreiter signed

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The Minnesota Wild have avoided at least one scheduled arbitration hearing, after signing Nino Niederreiter to a five-year deal worth $26.25 million on Sunday.

There is still work to be done, however, for general manager Chuck Fletcher.

The Wild have yet to sign restricted free agent Mikael Granlund, who elected for salary arbitration and has a hearing scheduled for Friday, which means there is still time to get something done in advance of that date.

Granlund, 25, completed a two-year deal worth a total of $6 million. His final season on that deal was a breakout campaign for the ninth overall pick in 2010.

He was due for a substantial raise this summer, after leading Minnesota in assists (43) and points (69) during the regular season. He also had 26 goals, obliterating his previous career best of 13 set during the 2015-16 season.

Following today’s news, Minnesota has about $10.5 million in cap space, per CapFriendly.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Granlund and the Wild are also negotiating a multi-year deal ranging between three and five years, GM Chuck Fletcher said last week. If a deal can’t be struck in advance of Friday, an arbitration hearing is scheduled.

In addition to Granlund, fellow Wild RFA Marcus Foligno is also searching for a new contract.

Related: Granlund a ‘hidden secret’ for Wild

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.

The Avalanche could use some good news — and Tyson Jost may be able to provide it

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The Colorado Avalanche are in the midst of difficult times. Very difficult.

Fans have lost confidence in the Avalanche front office, according to a recent report, following yet another dismal regular season. This week, they were informed that NCAA Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher won’t sign in Colorado, instead deciding to test free agency when that option becomes available to him next month.

Prospect forward Tyson Jost, however, is trying to provide a bright spot for the Avalanche.

After one season at North Dakota, Jost — taken 10th overall in 2016 — signed with the Avalanche at the end of March and then appeared in six NHL games before Colorado’s season (mercifully) came to an end. He scored only once, roofing a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of Devan Dubnyk.

He’s still only 19 years old, and his 20th birthday isn’t until the middle of next March. That said, the objective now is to make the Avalanche out of training camp and remain in the NHL as a regular next season.

“My goal this year is to be in the NHL and to be an impact player with the [Avalanche],” Jost told NHL.com. “To be able to do that, I have to have a big summer and I think I’m heading in the right direction. Working out at elevation, it’s a lot tougher. I wanted to be [at development camp last month]. I’m always looking for ways to get better.”

The Avalanche could certainly use a good news story coming out of training camp.

The story of Jost pressing for full-time NHL duty might slip under the radar when camps open, given the news earlier this month that Matt Duchene could start the season in Colorado, despite being the subject of trade speculation for quite some time.

Canucks prospect Pettersson reportedly aggravated injury at Summer Showcase

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Team Sweden will be without Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson in their lineup today when they play Team USA (White) at the World Junior Summer Showcase.

Pettersson, who was selected fifth overall by the Canucks in this year’s NHL Draft, missed a considerable amount of time during yesterday’s contest against the U.S., before it was revealed afterward that he aggravated a previous injury, according to ESPN’s Corey Pronman.

Given that news, it’s not surprising to see Pettersson held out of today’s game, per reports.

By selecting Pettersson, the Canucks add a talented and creative young center to their prospect pool. But he’ll need some time to develop physically before he’s ready for the NHL.

He stands at 6-foot-2 tall, but weighs in at only 165 pounds, which means he’ll need to grow into that frame. At 18 years of age, there is still plenty of time to do that.

“You’re going to have to be patient with him,” one scout told Ben Kuzma of Postmedia. “The advantage is he’s 18 and already playing against men. Give him two years in Sweden and allow him to gain that 30 pounds that he’s going to need before he can step into the NHL.

“Then you have a guy who can come in as a 20 year old.”

Meanwhile, Blackhawks prospect and Finnish defenseman Henri Jokiharju — the 29th overall selection this year — was hurt during today’s game against Team USA (Blue), per Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.

Ekman-Larsson counted on to carry Coyotes next season

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The Arizona Coyotes have completed significant moves this offseason.

They acquired a No. 1 center in Derek Stepan. They acquired goalie Antti Raanta, who was the back-up in New York but has shown signs he’s capable of transitioning into the starter’s role. They’ve brought in Niklas Hjalmarsson in a trade with Chicago, and general manager John Chayka expects he could be a top-pairing blue liner in Arizona.

For all of the youthful talent and the summer moves, Chayka believes the centerpiece for the Coyotes this season will be defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who just turned 26 years old a couple of weeks ago.

In Chayka’s mind, Ekman-Larsson is a “super star” for the Coyotes. The left-shooting defenseman has twice gone beyond the 20-goal plateau in a single season, while posting 12 goals and 39 points last season in Arizona.

“It’s a bit of a reboot here but I think we’ve got a good core, a young nucleus led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson,” Chayka told NHL Tonight. “He’s going to carry us. You only go as far as your top players can bring you.”

The Coyotes leaned heavily on Ekman-Larsson last season, as he played in every situation and averaged 24:36 of ice time per game, which led the team. Behind him in that category was Alex Goligoski at more than a full minute behind.

It was reported in June, when the Coyotes informed Shane Doan he would not be brought back next season, that Ekman-Larsson will be called on to be the club’s next captain. He has two more years remaining on his six-year, $33 million contract.