Despite the NHL salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million because of the coronavirus pandemic, Wild General Manager Bill Guerin feels he has enough wiggle room to achieve the rest of his offseason goals.
“We’ve managed things well enough, and we’ve got space and we’ve got some flexibility,” Guerin said earlier this week. “So, we’ll see what we’ll be able to accomplish in the next few days.”
The Wild’s books underwent a makeover Monday, with the team trading Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Donato and re-signing Carson Soucy and Nico Sturm.
While the team ditched Donato’s two-year, $3.8 million contract that had one season remaining, it retained half of Dubnyk’s salary. That decision carries an approximately $2.2 million cap hit even though the Wild will only pay Dubnyk $1.25 million (half of the $2.5 million salary left on his six-year, $26 million contract). Since the average annual value of that deal is roughly $4.3 million, the Wild counts half that against its salary cap.
Add in a three-year, $8.25 million deal for Soucy that averages $2.75 million per season and a two-year, $1.45 million commitment for Sturm, and the Wild’s overall cap hit is just shy of $69 million, according to capfriendly.com. That gives the team about $12.5 million in cap space to work with on the brink of free agency, which begins Friday.
“Cap space is always valuable,” Guerin said. “It gives you flexibility. These are tough times. We want to be respectful of [owner Craig Leipold’s] money, and if we’re going to spend it, we want to spend it wisely. And if we’re going to do that, we want to make sure it improves our team.”
Aside from filling out its goaltending tandem and potentially adding another center, the Wild also has to address its roster of restricted free agents.
Among the most notable players up for new deals are forwards Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. Contracts for both aren’t close to being done, with talks just getting underway, but Guerin said he’s confident both will get signed.
Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and defenseman Louie Belpedio, both of whom made the Wild’s expanded playoff roster, are also restricted free agents.
The deadline to extend qualifying offers to retain the rights to restricted free agents is Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Jan. 1 targeted
At the NHL draft on Tuesday, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is focusing on a Jan. 1 start to next season.
The league and the NHL Players Association released a joint statement that said Jan. 1 was a target date, with the start of training camps to be determined.
Earlier, Bettman said he still anticipated a full, 82-game schedule despite the format being unclear. The Wild is supposed to play host to the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Target Field, but, with fans unlikely to be allowed to attend, it seems likely that will be postponed.
Mostly the same
Judd Brackett, the Wild’s new director of amateur scouting, said the scouting staff he inherited has remained intact with one exception. PJ Fenton has joined the Panthers’ scouting staff after previously being the Wild’s co-director of amateur scouting. His father, former Wild GM Paul Fenton, is also now with Florida, as a senior adviser to the GM.
Not everyone on the scouting staff was in the Wild’s war room for the draft Tuesday at team headquarters, but scouts were able to attend virtually.
“Coming in I definitely saw some players in a different light and as did they,” Brackett said, “and we’re working together now to make it a collaborative effort and share our opinions and come to a mutual understanding.”
Baby Wild news
Iowa has hired Richard Bachman to replace Frederic Chabot as its goaltending coach after Chabot was named the Wild’s goalie coach in August.
Bachman, 33, had an 11-year playing career that included 49 NHL games with Dallas, Edmonton and Vancouver.