Good morning from the friendly sky. Sorry for the late analytical blog on Dubnyk and the depth chart, but I had flight issues getting out of Ft. Lauderdale last night.
Here's the Star Tribune Sunday Wild coverage, and a reminder that as always you can get all Star Tribune Wild links on your Facebook news feed by "liking" www.facebook.com/startribunemikerusso even if you hate my guts.
Here is my Insider on how the Wild will be a very similar-looking team next year to the one that had a great second half last year but got eliminated by the Blackhawks for a third straight year.
Here is Devan Dubnyk talking about his elation of re-signing with the Wild for six years.
Here is the draft notebook on Boston University coach David Quinn raving to me about second-round pick Jordan Greenway, the Wild taking Lakeville's Jack Sadek, where the Wild is in Mikael Granlund talks, the Wild taking a Czech goalie and Russian skilled forward and odds and ends.
Here are bio capsules on all the Wild's draft picks this weekend with comments from assistant GM Brent Flahr.
I have seen a lot of reaction to Devan Dubnyk’s six-year, $26 million contract.
Obviously, time will tell if the contract pans out, if the second half was a flash in the pan or the real Dubnyk.
But for what he played behind in Edmonton, the Wild analyzed that his numbers were way better than they should be and they’re confident that as long as the Wild continues to play with the defensive structure we saw at the beginning of last season and in the second half, that Dubnyk will fit perfectly right into that.
Also, remember, if the Wild didn’t sign Dubnyk, it would have had to trade for a goalie. The goalies that were traded this weekend all cost a significant number of draft picks, and then the Wild, if those goalies panned out, would have eventually had to sign them to a contract similar to this one.
This the market for No. 1 goalies in today’s NHL.
Dubnyk wanted an eight-year deal. The Wild wanted to give him four.
The sides met in the middle in exchange for what General Manager Chuck Fletcher called a “fair” salary-cap number.
Dubnyk agreed to a front-loaded six-year, $26 million contract. That $4.33 million cap hit makes this past season’s Masterton Trophy winner and Vezina Trophy finalist the 20th-highest paid goaltender in the league.
He’ll get $5 million in each of the first four seasons, then $3.5 million and $2.5 million the last two seasons.
This structure is right in line with many goalie contracts in the league. By going longer-term, the Wild gets a more manageable cap number. Go short-term, and the cap number would have been a ton higher and when you see the depth chart below for at least this upcoming season, you’d see that it would be impossible for the Wild to afford much higher. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause during certain windows.
This is not a Niklas Backstrom deal, as I’ve seen some people comment. Backstrom’s last three-year deal from Chuck Fletcher was given to a goalie that was up there in age and constantly going under the knife, as recent as less than a few months after being re-signed to the three-year deal. At the time of the deal, I think we all saw where that would likely end (awfully).
Honestly, I’d love to go back and try to figure out how many surgeries Backstrom has had in Minnesota. It’s got to be seven or eight. His entire insides has to be made up of scar tissue.
Dubnyk is 29, entering his prime and has shown throughout his career (so far) that he’s durable. He hasn’t suffered any big injuries and he showed his agility by starting 38 consecutive games for the Wild, which is nothing to sneeze at physically and especially mentally when you consider that ANY losing streak along the way last season would have caused the Wild to fall on its face and miss the playoffs.
Yet, he strived impressively through that pressure and stress. His entire demeanor is one of a cool, calm, collected goalie who doesn’t get all uptight, proven by the fact that he’ll sit there and yuck it up with teammates, staff, coaches and media on game days.
He went almost three months without losing consecutive regulation games, was 15-2-1 on the road and was a rock star in the second of back-to-back games despite the team in front of him being severely outplayed in basically every one of those second of back-to-backs.
Did he give up some bad goals in the second round of the playoffs? Absolutely. At least one in three games by my count and you do have to wonder if the Wild wins Game 1 if he doesn’t give up the high half-wall flutterer Teuvo Teravainen goal in the last minute of the second period after the Wild rallied from down 3-0.
But the Wild lost that series because it’s big guns again couldn’t score, because it never scored the first goal, because it never had the lead. And the one thing I do like about Dubnyk is he doesn’t unravel. One bad goal doesn’t turn into three like Darcy Kuemper showed a bunch last season.
To me, the most important thing was a good cap number. The Wild wanted to get him in at $4.25 million and got him at $4.33 million.
Fletcher said, "If you look at the top-20 goalies in terms of salary, I don’t know if any of them have less than five years. It’s a market contract. The salary will put him somewhere between the top-23 and 24 goalies in the league (top-20, according to capfriendly.com). I don’t think that’s an unreasonable number for what he’s done. It’s a fair contract. The cap number will work very well for us and the term is what he was hoping to get. That’s the compromises you make."
WILD DEPTH CHART
Here’s a look at how the Wild is shaping up to look like next season. This will change throughout the summer as the Wild add and delete players. Free agency opens Wednesday. As you can tell below, I still think there will need to be a trade or two to afford everything and be comfortable under the upper limit.
Not only will Mikael Granlund cost around $3 million, Erik Haula and Christian Folin are unsigned and the Wild needs to fill out some other spots on the roster. I also think the Wild needs another center as insurance.
So it'll be interesting to see if Fletcher has something or somethings up his sleeve.
The depth chart is my opinion. Obviously, lines change, roles change, etc.
In parentheses, each player’s cap hits.
Left wing Center Right wing
Zach Parise ($7.5+M) Mikael Granlund (RFA) Jason Pominville (5.6M)
Jason Zucker (900+K) Mikko Koivu (6.75M) Thomas Vanek ($6.5M)
Nino Niederreiter (2.66M) Charlie Coyle (3.2M) Justin Fontaine (1M)
--------------- Erik Haula (RFA) ---------------------------
Vying for spots: Jordan Schroeder (600K), Tyler Graovac, (747,500); Brett Sutter (600K), Michael Keranen (675K), Brett Bulmer (RFA), Kurtis Gabriel (667K), Zack Mitchell (615K), Brady Brassart ($836,667), Raphael Bussieres ($759,167), Grayson Downing (692,500), Pavel Jenys (688,333), Christoph Bertschy (575K), Jared Knight (RFA).
Left Defense Right Defense
Ryan Suter (7.5+M) Jonas Brodin (4.1+M)
Marco Scandella (4M) Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)
------------- Matt Dumba (894,167)
Vying for spots: Mike Reilly (925K), Christian Folin (RFA), Jon Blum (RFA), Gustav Olofsson (795K), Guillaume Gelinas ($596,667), Dylan Labbe (692,500), Zach Palmquist (692,500), Alex Gudbranson (610K), Hunter Warner (598,333)
Devan Dubnyk (4.33M)
Darcy Kuemper (1.25M)
Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)
Vying for spots: Brody Hoffman (925K), Stephen Michalek (can become UFA if unsigned by Aug. 16).
*Likely to sign a veteran No. 3 goalie
Total cap hit roughly: $62,921,342 ($71.4 million ceiling).
*Includes $500K buyout cap hit for Matt Cooke.
Available cap space: $8,478,658. This does not include Schroeder, who right now would probably make the team, Reilly, who has a shot to make the team but still has to make it, any of the unsigned restricted free agents and other signings. The Wild will not be a cap-ceiling team because it’ll want an injury cushion and flexibility to make in-season trades.
I will be on with Dan Barreiro this morning around 10:15.
I will also be filling in for Paul Allen on Wednesday from 9-12. I hope to have Fletcher on the show and a bunch more hockey guests as free agency opens at 11 a.m. Wednesday.