Minnesota has started contract extension talks with defenseman Jared Spurgeon and forward Jason Zucker, per the Star-Tribune.
Spurgeon, 26, is in the last of a deal with a $2.66 million annual cap hit, while Zucker, 23, is in the last of one that pays just over $900,000.
Both are pending RFAs, and both figure to be very interesting negotiations.
Spurgeon’s value to the Wild blueline cannot be understated. He sits second to Ryan Suter in a number of key statistical categories — including points (16) and TOI per game (22:16) — and is regarded as one of the club’s best skating and puck-moving d-men.
Zucker, meanwhile, is one of the league’s best bargains.
The diminutive speedster finished with 21 goals in just 51 games last year, 19 of which came at even strength. Those 19 ESG put him on par with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Logan Couture and Matt Duchene — some pretty impressive company.
This year, Zucker has 14 points in 28 games, while averaging a career-high 17:54 TOI per night.
Both figure to get fairly significant raises on their current deals.
The Wild, of course, don’t have a ton of financial wiggle room.
(GM Chuck Fletcher told the Star-Tribune his club is a cap team and that “every dollar counts,” adding “it’s a challenge every year.”)
Per war-on-ice, the Wild have around $56 million already committed for next season — to just 15 players. Fletcher also has another key RFA to deal with this summer in blueliner Matt Dumba, the club’s first-round pick (seventh overall) in 2012.
Backup netminder Darcy Kuemper is a RFA as well.
So, as you can imagine, all of this has made life difficult for Fletcher.
Just ask him.
“We’re not in any hurry to get something done,” Fletcher said. “We just want to make the right deal, and whenever that happens, it happens.