The Minnesota Wild avoided leaving any players open to offer sheets this year by getting their group re-signed in five rounds. It was down to the wire with defenseman Nate Schmidt but ultimately a compromise was made there as well. The next two RFA seasons will get interesting as there will be 'franchise defining' signings that will need to be done for core players. Carter Hart, Roope Hintz, Filip Hronek in 2021 and Elias Pettersson, Brady Tkachuk, Josh Morrissey in 2022 and potentially a few more developing prospects could be added to that group. But for now we focus on 2020 RFAs.
Ryan Graves: 25 years old. 2 x 2,500,000
"To be honest, we were a little surprised he took the first offer. We wanted to gauge the dollar amount with that offer. Our priority for defense was getting the term length right for Jared Spurgeon and Nate Schmidt first. At the same time, we wanted to see if Graves would continue to show growth or if this is where he tops out. We went with a 2 year bridge deal and will re-evaluate in 2 years time to see where he belongs on the depth chart with more important players to sign at that time."
Taylor Raddysh: 22 years old. 3 x 700,000
"First offer was for 2 years same amount. The potential for Raddysh to outplay his salary is very high. By all accounts, Raddysh is an NHL ready player that is only in the AHL because of the depth in Tampa Bay. As they continue to get hit with cap problems, it won't be long until Raddysh will be a regular there. He has been a goal scorer at every level he's played at. Tampa is the perfect place for him when he gets his opportunity."
Jake Evans: 24 years old. 2 x 600,000
"This one pissed me off. Should have signed week one. Hasn't done shit yet in NEFHL and kept wanting 'much more'. Evans is a 4th line NHL player now and has shown consistent growth year after year since being drafted. He may have a little more offense that is untapped but that would be a bonus. We wanted to lock him up to 4 years and be a fixture on the 4th line/spare forward but he wanted more than 2.5x his ELC and that's just not justifiable for a replaceable part with so many prospects to be signed to ELC in 2021."
Jake Debrusk: 24 years old. 4 x 1,750,000
"We knew he would take something around 1.75m, but we tried 1.3 and 1.5 the first couple weeks. Ultimately we feel this will be a great contract by the end of it. Under 2 mil so it won't hurt us when it comes time for bigger names to sign. "
Jared Spurgeon: 31 years old. 3 x 3,900,000
"We had Muzzin's salary (4.1m) as the max we would pay. It got close. Spurgeon made it very clear he did not want term. Likely would have taken 3.5m or less on a 1-2 year deal. Before RFA started, we wanted 3 years for Spurgeon and 4 years for Schmidt. It got risky when one signed and the other didn't. It did work out that way in the end but the money was higher than I wanted. Spurgeon is an integral part of the NHL Wild and is their best defenseman most nights. Signed longterm in NHL, I feel pretty good about his contract here even at 3.9m"
Nick Cousins: 27 years old. 3 x 700,000
"We wanted Cousins at 2 years so he stays an RFA and can be re-evaluated later. Cousins wanted to hit UFA and made it very clear. When he refused 2 x 950,000 there was no way I was going over 1+mil for a guy that would be replaced by Evans or somebody else as early as next year. We took the lower cap on a replaceable player."
David Kampf: 25 years old. 1 x 700,000
"Our first and only offer to him. Has an NHL deal, plays a specific role on CHI 4th line. Figured I'd keep him around another year as he can be a useful callup/spare forward in a defensive role wth 78DF."
Nate Schmidt: 29 years old. 4 x 3,350,000
"If I offered Schmidt the same deal as Graves he would have taken it. That would make no sense for me from a cap management perspective. When Spurgeon took 3 years in week 3, we had to go 4 so we aren't forced to make a decision to keep one. Chances are at least one will eventually be traded we just didn't want to be forced into that from the onset of the contracts. Schmidt is essentially 'the guy' in vegas as far as defense goes. All situation player, logs a ton of ice, is a leader, and contributes offensively. Signed longterm in NHL so we felt comfortable with 4 years even if we paid for them. If he was a UFA he likely would have gotten 3.5m or more anyway."
The Minnesota Wild also announce the departures of Gabriel Fontaine and Ben Thomas from the organization as they were not qualified. Minnesota currently has 8 players from the prospect page to sign to entry-level contracts in the summer of 2021 and is keeping farm space open. However, this did not stop GM Peter from taking a chance at UFA prospect defesenseman Jake Christiansen who ended his WHL career with 22 goals and 50 points in 38 games in his final season with Everett.