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Wild extend captain Mikko Koivu’s contract for two years, $11M

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Minnesota Wild fans fearing that the 2017-18 season could be Mikko Koivu‘s last can breathe a sigh of relief, and that suspense didn’t even carry into opening night.

Instead, the Wild signed Koivu to a two-year contract extension worth $11 million.

That $5.5M cap hit kicks in during the 2018-19 campaign and ends after 2019-20. It represents a minor cut in pay for Koivu, as he’s entering the final year of a deal with a $6.75M cap hit.

Koivu, 34, enjoyed a strong first season under Bruce Boudreau, becoming a Selke finalist for the first time in his underrated career. He’s been Minnesota’s captain since 2008-09.

Koivu’s deal would qualify as a 35+ contract, according to Cap Friendly.

The Finnish forward likely valued stability, maybe taking a little less in AAV for the sake of peace of mind.

This continues a busy week-or-so for the Wild, who also broke their impasse with RFA Marcus Foligno by handing him a four-year, $11.5M deal.

Opinion: this Koivu deal is a much, much easier decision to justify, even taking into account his advanced age.

Devils expecting more from Taylor Hall this season

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Taylor Hall‘s first season with the New Jersey Devils could probably be described as a solid season. In 72 games he scored 20 goals, added 33 assists and posted some pretty good possession numbers. On a per-game average, it was very similar to what he did in his previous two years with the Edmonton Oilers.

Heading into his second season with the team, the Devils are looking for more this time around.

“I expect more and he knows that,” said general manager Ray Shero when the team opened training camp this week, via NHL.com. “We met at the end of the year for a long time and wanted him to understand what it is to become the best player he can be. I think he’s been fantastic this summer and he’s capable of more, but it starts with a lot of different things than what’s happening on the ice in terms of training.”

The Devils acquired Hall last summer in a one-for-one swap involving defenseman Adam Larsson, giving the Devils what should be the type of top-line winger they have been missing since Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk left the organization several years ago. Hall is still only 26 years old and under contract for three more seasons at a reasonable $6 million per year salary cap hit. Given his age and contract status, he can still be a part of the next competitive team in New Jersey as it continues on its rebuild under Shero and coach John Hynes.

They have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since reaching the Stanley Cup Final during the 2011-12 season and are coming off of a 2016-17 season that saw them finish with the fourth-worst record in the league and what was, by a pretty big margin, the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

The team made a lot of moves this summer to get Hall some additional help front. After getting some luck in the draft lottery the Devils selected Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall pick, then also added Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle and Drew Stafford. They are also looking for young players like Pavel Zacha and Blake Speers to take big steps forward.

Back injury keeps Parise out early in Wild training camp

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise is being held out of the beginning of training camp because of a back injury.

Parise was not on the ice Friday for the first practice. His status is considered day to day. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he doesn’t believe Parise’s condition is serious. He said the team is being “overly precautious.”

Parise had 19 goals and 23 assists in 69 games in 2016-17, his lowest points total in a non-lockout season since his rookie year with New Jersey. Parise missed the playoffs after the 2015-16 season because of a back injury.

 

Wild agree to terms with Foligno on four-year, $11.5M deal

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The list of remaining restricted free agents still waiting for new contracts is down to three, after the Wild announced a deal for Marcus Foligno.

The Wild announced the contract on Thursday. It’s a four-year deal, worth a total of $11.5 million and an average annual value of $2.875 million.

That’s a bump up from the $2.25 million he earned last season in Buffalo.

Minnesota acquired the 26-year-old Foligno — as well as Tyler Ennis — on June 30, while sending Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella to Buffalo.

Foligno isn’t known for producing big offensive numbers, scoring a career best 13 goals last season. His career high for points in a single season is 23 — a mark he set in two consecutive years with Buffalo. That said, he has quite the goal in mind for 2017-18 with his team, aiming for 20 goals as a member of the Wild.

“We are happy to officially have Marcus as a part of our club for the next four seasons,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement.

“Marcus is a big, physical forward who is capable of playing a heavy game while also contributing offensively. We are excited to add his presence to our lineup and watch him continue his growth as a player.”

Per Michael Russo of The Athletic, Foligno is expected to join the Wild on Friday.

Daniel Winnik will attend training camp with the Minnesota Wild

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Daniel Winnik has found a new home…for now.

After spending the last year and a half with the Washington Capitals, the unrestricted free agent has decided to join the Minnesota Wild on professional tryout.

Winnik put together a decent season with the Caps last season, as the bottom-six forward collected 12 goals and 25 points in 72 games in 2016-17.

Since coming into the league in 2007-08, the veteran has moved around quite a bit. He began his career with Arizona before making stops in Colorado, San Jose, Anaheim, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Washington.

In 717 career NHL games, the 32-year-old has 76 goals, 152 assists and 340 penalty minutes.

The move makes sense for Minnesota. Head coach Bruce Boudreau always enjoys icing four balanced lines and adding Winnik certainly gives them another capable veteran forward that can kill penalties and play well in his own end.

The Wild currently have over $2 million in cap space, so they could fit Winnik under the cap if they like what they see from him in training camp.