The Wild didn’t tweak its roster over the weekend at the NHL draft, but the team did address the status of a few regulars Monday.
Restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba received qualifying offers before the 4 p.m. deadline, along with defenseman Nick Seeler. Fellow blue liner Ryan Murphy signed a one-year, two-way contract that’ll pay him $650,000 in the NHL and $275,000 in the American Hockey League. Murphy was with the Wild for 21 games last season, helping out amid injuries to the back end.
Minor-leaguers Adam Vay, Adam Gilmour, Steve Michalek and Dylan Labbe were not given offers, making them unrestricted free agents.
Extending a qualifying offer allows the Wild to retain the player’s negotiation rights. Zucker, Dumba and Seeler also have arbitration rights, and players have until July 5 to elect for arbitration.
Zucker is coming off a two-year, $4 million contract and certainly merits a raise based on his performance. After scoring 22 goals in 2016-17, he buried a career-high 33 last season, but it’ll be interesting to see how much a disappointing showing in the playoffs (no points in five games) impacts talks.
If the price tag becomes too high for the Wild, that could force the team to pursue a trade — although Zucker already seems to be a candidate to be on the move, with the organization seeking a spark after another early exit from the postseason.
The cost of a new contract for Dumba could also be a tipping point, but with right-shot defensemen such a valuable commodity in the NHL, he appears less likely to be traded.
Dumba is finishing a two-year, $5.1 million contract and like Zucker, he’s poised for a pay increase; the 23-year-old posted career-highs in goals (14), assists (36) and points (50) last season while averaging the most minutes he’s played in the NHL at 23 minutes, 49 seconds. Discussions between his camp and the Wild have already started.
As for Seeler, he parlayed a late-season call-up into a consistent role with the Wild down the stretch. Seeler skated in 22 games before appearing in every playoff contest and is likely in the mix for a regular spot next season.
July 15 is the deadline to accept qualifying offers.