Yesterday, the agent for unsigned Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper said rumblings of a move to the KHL “could happen.”
Today, there’s another report of a Minnesota youngster receiving overtures from Russia. From the Pioneer Press:
I’m mid-flight back to the Twin Cities, but I can confirm via his agent that #mnwild F Nino Niederreiter turned down “a huge KHL offer.”
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) September 9, 2014
Niederreiter, 22, is coming off a breakout campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 36 points in 81 games, then scored one of the biggest goals in Wild franchise history:
He’s a blossoming talent and, per the Pioneer Press, progress has been made recently with regards to a new deal. But the Wild know signing Niederreiter will have implications further down the road — most notably next summer, when a slew of key RFAs are up for new deals: Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella.
(Which is why Fletcher keeps stressing the importance of finding “the right deal.”)
The Kuemper and Niederreiter deals have been a thorn in Minnesota’s side all season, so it’s not surprising to learn that the KHL has thrown its hat in the ring. Fletcher has a lot of money tied up in recently-signed veterans — Jason Pominville turns 32 in November and is on the books ’til 2019; Thomas Vanek’s now on the wrong side of 30 and will make $6.5M annually for the next three years — and it makes sense that someone’s trying to put the financial squeeze on by offering the youngsters (Niederreiter specifically) a big chunk of change.