Minnesota Wild Fire Up Contract Talks With Impending Free Agents

By Randy Holt
Niklas Backstrom
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After what they’ve done in the past 12 months or so, we probably shouldn’t expect the Minnesota Wild to make another Earth shattering move. They’ve acquired three marquee players, two last summer and one at the trade deadline, since last year’s offseason. But what we can expect is them to try their best to retain the few free agents that they do have to worry about.

Apparently, the Wild have already begun contract negotiations with some of their impending free agents, or at least the ones that they have every intention of bringing back. With about three weeks to go until free agency opens up, we’re starting to get into crunch time for keeping players around before they are opened up to a contract with another team.

The priority here for the Wild is Niklas Backstrom. Their starting goaltender is coming off of one of the worst years of his career, and there is plenty of depth to be had between Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper, but the Wild have made no secret that they want him back.

Whether they want the veteran presence in there for another year, while Kuemper toils and finishes his development in Houston, or they’re legitimately concerned over the future of Harding’s health, Backstrom is a priority. They’re likely looking at bringing him back on a shorter term deal, and at a paycut from the $6 million cap hit he’s currently carrying.

But he’s not the only free agent that the Wild have opened up negotiations with. They’ve also started talking to Cal Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon. Both are restricted free agents, and the future of Clutterbuck has been significantly more in question than that of Spurgeon.

Clutterbuck is a physical presence, but doesn’t bring a ton to the table in terms of his offense. Still, a big body with decent skill is an asset. If they can get him on a cheapish deal, it’ll be easy to get done. Spurgeon’s entry level deal is coming to an end, and is a solid player on the blue line. It’d be a surprise to not see him back next year.

This trio represents three of the seven free agents, both unrestricted and restricted that the Wild have to deal with. It’s safe to say that they represent the priority, while the future of the other four with Minnesota is certainly up in the air. Whether or not deals get done before July 5th rolls around, however, remains to be seen.

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