In a busy day out of the Minnesota Wild front offices in St. Paul, Paul Fenton has made another deal today. Center Eric Staal received a two year contract extension through the 2020-21 season. The deal comes with a cap hit of $3.25 million, a quarter million dollar decrease over the cap hit of his current deal.
Once thought to be a likely trade candidate for the Wild, Staal made it clear that he wanted to stay in Minnesota. It is possible his statements about wanting to stay were strong enough to scare off teams from making serious attempts at trading for him at the deadline. But regardless of why no one traded for him, he remains with the team and will be in Minnesota until the summer of 2021. It is not terribly surprising that Staal wanted to stay here, given the fact that he was able to revive his career here. In his first season for the Wild, Staal put up 28 goals and 65 points and then managed to blow those numbers away with 42 goals and 76 points the following year. His stats this season are clearly the lowest of his three years here, and in comparison to the incredible year he had last season, it is easy to be disappointed with his current production. That being said, 18 goals and 41 points through 62 games is nothing to scoff at. And Staal has come out and said that the thought of being traded interferes with his ability to play. Hopefully knowing that he will have stability for the rest of this season and next season should allow him to elevate his game play.
With a cap hit of just $3.25 million, Staal does not need to return to his 2017-18 level of play for the deal to work out well for the Wild. A year ago when he put up 42 goals and 76 points, Staal had the best cost-per-point of anyone in the NHL making over $2 million (so excluding mostly just players who are on entry level contracts or similar contracts negotiated early in their careers). This year he slides down to 13 on that list. Those stats are courtesy of CapFriendly. In terms of what the Wild are getting versus what they are paying, this is a phenomenal contract. Staal is on pace to end the season with 24 goals and 54 points (assuming he plays 82 games). Paul Statsny, who reached free agency last offseason just two years younger than Staal will be this summer, turned 16 goals and 53 points in 82 games into a three year, $19.5 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. Staal’s new deal will carry a cap hit of half that size.