Wild lock up Niederreiter to three-year deal reportedly worth $8M

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The Minnesota Wild solved one of their last remaining free agent riddles on Thursday, signing Nino Niederreiter to a three-year contact. The deal’s worth $8 million ($2.66 million cap hit per year), according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

From the sound of things, Niederreiter might be more relieved to get a deal done than anyone else.

“I’m glad it’s over with and I don’t have to worry about the contract anymore,” Niederreiter told Russo. “I can’t wait to focus on playing.”

He expressed his excitement on Twitter, too:

While the 22-year-old still has a way to go to justify being the fifth overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, he showed some serious signs of improvement in his first season with the Wild. After only managing a goal in 55 games with the New York Islanders back in 2011-12, he was a solid contributor in Minnesota, scoring 14 goals and 36 points in 81 games.

It’s probably true that he was sheltered (especially looking at his offensive zone starts), but the Wild are likely also glad to see that his possession numbers climbed as well.

Naturally, his performance in Game 7 of the Wild’s first-round series versus the Colorado Avalanche likely stokes optimism. He generated two goals and one assist, including this OT game-winner and series-clincher:

Minnesota boasts a nice rising tide of young players, so if Niederreiter makes a big jump, this team could really boast a formidable combination of up-and-comers and prime-age stars.

Overall, the Wild look into the 2014-15 season with promise, although the Darcy Kuemper situation still needs to be resolved.