Good Morning Wilderness! Today, I am going to talk briefly about the Minnesota Wild's two unsigned restricted free agents. It's roughly 15 days until the Minnesota Wild start training camp and Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper are still unsigned.
It's September and getting down to crunch time. I would imagine that the Wild would love to have those two players signed to a contract, before training camp begins. The last thing the Wild want is the contract negotiations of either player to spill out into training camp. The Wild definitely want to go into training camp with both players signed.
Michael Russo lays it out pretty well. Usually these things work themselves out with RFAs, but I am starting to get a little worried.
Russo's Rants-- As of now, both restricted free agents remain unsigned, meaning their contract squabbles with the Wild threaten their on-time arrival to camp. General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday at the State Fair that conversations remain ongoing but gave no indication that either is close to being signed. There's more than a dozen quality restricted free agents around the NHL still unsigned.
Usually, this stuff works itself out right before camp begins. Kuemper is 24. Niederreiter turns 22 on Sept. 8, so at such young ages and with such competition in camp, it certainly won't help matters if they miss the start of camp.
I never understood why restricted free agents think they have a lot of bargaining power, especially if they have made modest gains. Both are good players, but in Niederreiter's case, he can be replaced by another young Wild player that's hungry to get into the lineup. Kuemper is a different story, the Wild need depth at the goaltending position.
I would imagine that Jason Zucker would love to take Niederreiter's spot on the roster.
Make no mistake about it, Kuemper is a good young NHL goalie, and he has tremendous upside. However, I don't think he has much room to command a big salary increase. I also think he has to surpass last season numbers to get a big bump in his pay check.
Kuemper has played in 32 NHL games and has a (13-10-4, 2.37 GAA and a .915 SV%). Those are decent numbers, but they don't command a big salary increase, rather a modest bump.
Nino has played in 145 NHL games and scored (16g-23a—39pts), those numbers don’t scream sign me to a multi-year multi-million dollar contract. Sure, Nino has shown us a glimpse of things to come, but he’s going to need to surpass last season's point totals, if he wants to get a big pay raise.
It is time for the Minnesota Wild to sign their last two remaining RFAs. The season is almost upon us.