In this week’s edition of The Score’s Hockey News, we discuss the salary cap situation with Joe Niewendik and the Wild’s future at center.
TheScore’s Hockey Department Editor-in-Chief Dan Rosenbaum answers your questions about the Wild, its young core, and the salary-cap situation with the team.1.
Can the Wild have an NHL team in the near future?
Nieuwendsky is a top-four forward in the NHL right now, and he is just the latest in a line of Wild forwards who have had a strong rookie season, including Mikael Granlund, Jared Spurgeon, Kyle Brodziak, and Alex Burrows.
The Wild will have a few key forwards from last year’s team back this season, and they could also have a new scoring threat if they can find one.
If Nieuwski returns to his career high point total of 27 goals, it could mean that the Wild can make a strong run at the Stanley Cup.
But it is possible that Nieuweenskys contract could get extended in a few weeks, as the Wild could look to pay him as much as $7 million per season.
The team could also consider moving him, or re-signing him as a restricted free agent.2.
How many players on the Wild will be available in 2019-20?
We have no idea at this point, but it is safe to assume that the majority of the Wild forwards are in their prime years, and there is a lot of room to build on the roster.
The only question is whether the Wild would make a big push to add a young defenseman or a young forward.
One way to gauge the Wilds interest in the future is to look at how they handle the goaltending situation.
The club is already dealing with injuries to two of its top goalies, and that means the Wild might be looking to add some competition for the job.
A top goalie would be a big step for the Wild to take, but one could also see the Wild take a pass on the goalie position in favor of finding a young player who has NHL potential.3.
Can Erik Haula make the Wild?
A lot of the attention surrounding Erik Hilaakas contract extension with the Wild has focused on his $4.2 million cap hit this season.
He had a career year in 2017-18, but he has not played as well in 2018-19, which is the final season of his contract.
If Hilaaks contract is extended, it will likely mean that Haulas contract will be extended this season as well, which would create some cap space for the team in 2019.
Haula is coming off a career season in which he led the NHL in goals (18), points (38), and plus/minus rating (plus-25), while he had a solid playoff run.
His contract will likely be in line with other players who have scored more than 40 goals this season (Alex Tanguay, Brandon Saad, and Erik Karlsson).4.
Will the Wild be able to trade for Joe Pavelski?
A big question surrounding the Wild this offseason is whether it is going to be able do so.
Pavelski, a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has a one-year, $5 million cap hold.
He will be under contract for the 2018-2019 season.
It would be very unlikely for the NHL to trade Pavelski before then, but the team has said it wants to make sure that it is able to keep Pavelski.
Pavels salary would be an issue for any team that could use him, but if the Wild were to be in the market for a forward, they would be wise to keep a close eye on him.5.
Who will be the Wild starting goalie for the 2019-2020 season?
The Wild has already given up on its goaltender situation this offseason, but could it afford to be patient and wait for the season to end before making a move?
The Wild has one of the deepest goaltending pools in the league, and it could be a long time before the team finds another starter.
A team could have the flexibility to take a player in the first round, second round, or third round, which could allow them to make a splash.6.
Is the Wild willing to part with Nick Bjugstad?
After trading for Joe Sakic and signing Mike Yeo, the Wild now has the luxury of adding a goaltender.
The trade that sent Nick Bjujavik to the Boston Bruins was done with Bjugs trade being a big part of the deal.
But if Bjugsters contract is not extended this summer, it would be hard for the Avalanche to afford to part ways with Bjujan to sign a free agent goaltender.
Bjugstadt has not had a great season so far, but his numbers have been good enough for him to earn a spot on the Avalanche depth chart