When Wild General Manager Bill Guerin went shopping before the NHL's trade deadline to bolster his team's offense, he was looking for productivity at a low price. Guerin landed what turned out to be one of the league's best bargain acquisitions in left winger Marcus Johansson, who contributed six goals and 12 assists in 20 games — and did so on a pro-rated portion of his $1.1 million salary.
On Tuesday, Guerin, with a tight salary cap in mind, started the retooling of the Wild's 2023-24 roster by signing Johansson to a two-year contract extension worth $2 million annually.
"We made some pretty good moves at the deadline and added some guys that were good players for cheap,'' Guerin said during his end-of-the-season news conference. "And that's what we're going to have to continue to do to manage this whole thing.''
According to the website capfriendly.com, the signing of Johansson left the Wild with roughly $8.235 million in salary cap space for next season, when the NHL's cap will be $83.5 million. Cutting into the Wild's cap space are the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, which will cost the team $14.74 million in each of the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons, up from $12.74 million this season. With Johansson's new deal, the Wild have 16 players under contract for the upcoming season.
"Honestly, those cap hits, yeah, they affect us,'' Guerin said. "But I'm fine with that because we've been a good team. It's just a matter of putting it together at the right time.''
Johansson, who will turn 33 in October, joined the Wild on Feb. 28 in a trade that sent a third-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals. The 6-1, 203-pound Swede made a positive impact for the Wild with his speed and his ability to bring out the most from linemate Matt Boldy, who scored 15 of his career-high 31 goals in the 20 regular-season games after the acquisition of Johansson.
"Having him back will really help,'' Guerin said. "He and Boldy had some good chemistry together. He looks like a different player than when we had him before [in 2020-21]. He was spectacular, so we're extremely excited about that.''
Said Boldy: "You see how good he is. He's fast, skilled, plays well in the D-zone. He's got it all, and he's got experience. He knows how to play. He's a guy who's taught me a lot and helped me out in a lot of ways, too.''
During Monday's news conference involving players, Johansson indicated he was eager to remain in Minnesota and lamented the six-game playoff loss to Dallas.
"I love everything about this place and this group and the team,'' he said. "We have an unbelievable team. We're disappointed. We should have done better, and so yeah, it's very frustrating.''
The Wild acquired four other players through trades this season who will become unrestricted free agents on July 1: forwards Gustav Nyquist, Oskar Sundqvist and Ryan Reaves, and defenseman John Klingberg.
"We're leaving all our options open with those guys,'' Guerin said. "We'll have discussions down the road a little bit."