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Looking Ahead at the Wild’s Upcoming Restricted Free Agency

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Several Wild players will be looking for new contracts in the upcoming months. What could they be paid?

Minnesota Wild v Anaheim Ducks

According to Cap Friendly, the Wild currently have around a $60.6 million salary cap hit next year for 14 players and the last year of the Thomas Vanek buyout. If we assume the salary cap rises to $75 million and the Vegas Golden Knights take Marco Scandella in the expansion draft, the Wild could have about $18.4 million in cap space to re-sign their restricted free agents and find a backup goaltender and seventh defenseman.

So, who is a restricted free agent at the end of this season and what is their current cap hit?
This list does not include any non-roster players such as anyone currently in Iowa.

  • Mikael Granlund - $3,000,000
  • Nino Niederreiter - $2,666,667
  • Erik Haula - $1,000,000
  • Christian Folin - $750,000
  • Kurtis Gabriel - $666,667
  • Jordan Schroeder - $650,000

Folin, Schroeder, and Gabriel likely won’t earn large raises, but it would be surprising if Gabriel was paid more than Schroeder next year. All three combined will probably have a cap hit of less than $2.5 million.

However, what Granlund, Niederreiter, and Haula will get paid is much more interesting. Granlund and Niederreiter are on pace for career highs in points while Haula is on pace for a dissapointing year. With 10 goals and 31 points in 39 games, Granlund is on pace for 65 points, which is 21 points higher than his current career high of 44 points. Meanwhile, Niederreiter is on pace for 50 points with 9 goals and 24 points in 39 games, which is 7 points more than is current career high of 43. Lastly, Haula is on a 31 point pace over 82 games, but because he’s already missed 10 games, he’s on pace for only 27 points for the rest of the season.

What are these three going to be paid? Let’s look at some players from last year who scored at or around 65, 50, and 31 points.

65 Points

Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Claude Giroux 78 67
Nikita Kucherov 77 66
Jaromir Jagr 79 66
Taylor Hall 82 65
Steven Stamkos 77 64
Filip Forseberg 82 64
Max Pacioretty 82 64
Sean Monahan 81 63

It’s important to note that each of these players has more proven success than Granlund at scoring at that high level. However, if he were to reach 65 points, Niita Kucherov, Filip Forsberg, and Sean Monahan would serve as decent comparables as each of those three signed new contracts this past offseason. Kucherov was signed to a $4,766,667 contract over three years by the wizard Steve Yzerman. Meanwhile, Forsberg signed a $6,000,000 contract over six years and Monahan signed a $6,375,000 contract over seven years. In addition to less overall success, Granlund is a few years older than all three of those players.

With only one year at 65 points, Granlund shouldn’t get a long term deal at six million, but a cap hit somewhere between five and six million over a shorter term might work better for both him and the team. For the sake of conversation, we’ll assume he makes $5.5 million next year.

50 Points

Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Frans Nielsen 81 52
Jeff Skinner 82 51
T.J. Oshie 80 51
Adam Henrique 80 50
Reilly Smith 82 50
Ryan Spooner 80 49
Paul Stastny 64 49

For Niederreiter, T.J. Oshie and Adam Henrique may serve as the best comparables if he scores 50 points this season. Oshie is currently on the last year of a 5-year $4,175,000 contract that he earned after three seasons with 48, 33, and 54 total points. Henrique has had a similar past few years to Nino as he scored 50 points last year and 43 points the year before, so his $4,000,000 cap hit could be very similar to what Nino earns on his next contract.

31 Points

Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Player Name Games Played 15-16 Point Total
Matt Cullen 82 32
Josh Bailey 81 32
Michael Raffl 82 31
Calle Jarnkrok 81 30
Antoine Roussel 80 29
Jimmy Hayes 75 29
Nick Bonino 63 29

Antoine Roussel and Calle Jarnkrok have both had similar point totals to Haula over the past few years and both have a cap hit of $2,000,000.

If we add all that up, those six players could have a salary cap hit of $14 million, leaving the Wild with about $4.4 million in cap space for a backup goaltender and a seventh defenseman. Alternatively, the Wild could spend a little more for better depth players on one year deals and send some players back down to Iowa. In any case, the Wild’s cap situation may not be as brutal as it could be next season if Chuck Fletcher can pull off some average contracts and convince Vegas to take Scandella.

But what do you think? Are those predicted cap hits close or are they totally off? If the Wild have some extra cap space next year, how should they use it? Let us know in the comments.