I would have been shocked anyway if Colton Gillies' chance of making the Wild wasn't exceptionally high after his strong postseason for Houston and mutual respect level with coach Mike Yeo, but the 2007 first-round pick now has a contract that gives him an even better chance.
Hey, this is a business, and if you can put a player in the minors, the $67,000 guy almost always loses to the $600,000 guy.
Well, Gillies was re-signed this morning to a one-way, two-year, $1.25 million contract ($625,000 cap hit), meaning he'd have to be paid his NHL salary in the minors next year. So as long as he doesn't come to camp looking like me, he's got a foot closer than many of the two-way guys.
On his qualifying offer, he would have had to been given a 10-percent raise of his $787,500 NHL salary. In an exchange for Gillies making his NHL salaries more manageable, he gets a one-way deal or more of a guarantee that he'll be an NHLer.
From a Wild standpoint, this made all the sense in the world. Gillies for the first time requires waivers to get to the minors, so the Wild probably weren't feeling too comfortable he'd clear waivers to get to Houston anyway. So basically, Gillies had a great shot at making this team anyway -- assuming he doesn't look like me in September.
The rest of the restricted guys should be accepting their qualifying offers soon, although there's negotiations going on with Casey Wellman on a different type of deal now.
Wild Depth Chart
Here's a look at the Wild's depth chart for next season as it stands today. There are basically four spots open if one assumes 17 one-way contracts and two two-way contracts (Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon) are certain to make the team. The other four spots (TBD) would come from youngsters vying for spots or external acquisitions (free agency or trades). Below each player are his 2011-12 salary and 2011-12 salary-cap hit. The salary-cap ceiling for next season is $64.3 million.
Line 1: Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.25 million salary, $4.08M salary cap hit); Mikko Koivu ($7.29M, $6.75M); Dany Heatley ($8M, $7.5M)
Line 2: Guillaume Latendresse ($2.6M, $2.5M); Matt Cullen ($3.5M, $3.5M); Devin Setoguchi ($2.75M; $3M)
Line 3: Darroll Powe ($950K, $1.066M); Kyle Brodziak ($1.3M, $1.15M); Cal Clutterbuck ($1.5M, $1.4M)
Line 4: Colton Gillies ($600K, $625K); Eric Nystrom ($1.4M, $1.4M); Brad Staubitz ($600K, $575K)
Extras: TBD; TBD
Note: One or two spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards (assumes Gillies makes the team), or seven or eight defensemen.
Vying for spots: Casey Wellman, Cody Almond, James Sheppard, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer, Jeff Taffe.
Restricted free agents: Wellman, Sheppard, Jarod Palmer
Unrestricted free agents: John Madden, Antti Miettinen, Patrick O’Sullivan
Minor league unrestricted free agents: Robbie Earl
Pair 1: Nick Schultz ($3.6 million salary, $3.5M salary cap hit); Marek Zidlicky ($4M, $4M)
Pair 2: Greg Zanon ($2.1M, $1.933M); Jared Spurgeon ($535K, $527K)
Pair 3: Clayton Stoner ($575K, $550K); TBD
Note: Two or three spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards.
Vying for spots: Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, Drew Bagnall.
Restricted free agents: Falk, Jeff Penner.
Starter: Niklas Backstrom ($6 million salary, $6M salary cap hit)
Backup: Josh Harding ($750K, $750K)
• Actual 2011-12 payroll (as of today): $53,769,445
• Salary cap hit: $52,109,777
Notes: Includes bought-out Mark Parrish’s $927,778 payoff and cap hit and soon-to-be-bought-out Cam Barker $541,667 payoff and $375,000 cap hit.
This total includes 19 of a possible 23 players (including Gillies). This doesn’t the other youngsters vying for the team or possible free-agent or trade acquisitions. That means the payroll and salary-cap hits are in actuality higher because up to five spots may still be filled.