Yeo’s extension in Minnesota might prove tricky

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Interesting stuff here from the Star-Tribune about contract negotiations between the Wild and head coach Mike Yeo:

Yeo, whose last contract paid him approximately $600,000 in the final year of his deal, is likely looking to double his salary. After the initial meeting [last week with GM Chuck Fletcher], Yeo left for a fishing trip and is scheduled to return Wednesday.

The two sides weren’t expected to talk during his trip, so talks should continue once he returns. Like I reported May 15-17, this was bound to take a little time.

When Yeo took the job right out of Houston in 2011, there was basically no negotiation. He has since guided the Wild into the playoffs in two consecutive years of a three-year deal and guided the Wild into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003. So, this contract would require an actual negotiation, and frankly, that’s the position the Wild put itself in by not giving Yeo a one-year contract extension last summer.

Given he was in the final year of his deal, it’s clear the organization took a wait-and-see approach in the playoffs before committing to an extension.

All Yeo did was raise his stock.

Despite going in as a wild card qualifier, the Wild impressed this postseason — beating Central Division champs Colorado in Round 1 before pushing the ‘Hawks to OT of Game 6 in Round 2 — and, suddenly, Yeo went from being a “guy on the fence” to a “guy the organization couldn’t lose.”

Fletcher said as much in his year-end presser, saying “Mike’s the coach of our team” and thereby giving Yeo some significant leverage in negotiations.

So, how will said leverage come into play? Consider the following:

— Yeo’s still one of the best young coaches going, even though he’s had the Wild job for three seasons. He remains the NHL’s youngest bench boss at 40, with the next oldest being 43-year-old Dan Bylsma.

— Oh yeah, Bylsma! That’s a name worth mentioning. He could very well be shown the door in Pittsburgh following Ray Shero’s dismissal and that could be a huge development for Yeo, who spent 10 years in the Pittsburgh organization (including four as an assistant coach) prior to joining the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston.

— How much money does Yeo want? That could be an x-factor, especially since Wild owner Craig Leopold has made no secret about how deep his pockets are, or how much he’s willing to spend to build a winner.

Of course, Minnesota has some leverage too. Yeo and his staff are under contract until June 30 so, even if he was interested in exploring other options (Vancouver, Florida and Carolina still have vacancies, remember) he’d need the club’s permission to speak with other teams.

So the signs really do point to Yeo heading back to Minnesota. It just might not happen all that quickly.