“Something something dark side…something something complete,” is a line from Family Guy. As a fan of Star Wars I can laugh at the parody because its true with the grand eloquent language about the force and its power throughout the series. Its the kind of verbiage that nerds love, but casual fans of the show find boring as they want the movie to skip ahead to another dramatic space battle. To put it another way, they want more Han Solo and less Yoda.
Yet part of me believes the Family Guy line is apropos for the news that the Minnesota Wild had managed to re-sign Mikael Granlund to a 3-year deal worth $17.25 million which will make for about a $5.75 million yearly cap hit. It sounds good and is crucially important for the team that two sides reached a sensible deal which I think this is much in the same way Nino Niederreiter’s extension was a few days before it. It’d be fun to imply that Granlund’s deal would complete kind of Wild puzzle that will take them closer to a Stanley Cup, but I don’t think that’s the case.
The Wild drafted Granlund (9th Overall) and he is coming off his best NHL season by far where he more set career marks in goals (26) and points (69) where he was also finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy as the most gentlemanly player. The question is whether he can add to those totals or have we seen him at his peak? Granlund certainly seemed to be far more comfortable offensively while playing on the wing than playing at center when he made his initial sojourn into the NHL. The Oulu, Finland-native really seemed to come into his own and the team is certainly banking on him continuing to be the go-to offensive threat for the Wild. He had tremendous chemistry playing on a line along side Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker that seemed to have the ‘just right’ mix of speed, skill and cycling play along the boards. No doubt if the Wild intends on being near the top of the Central Division this line will likely have to be the team’s workhorse once again. You can hear Granlund’s post-extension interview here.
I think the deal makes a lot of sense, and even though a 3-year deal is shorter than a lot of the others we’ve seen tossed out for other young players I think it maybe belies there still is a little bit a of a ‘prove it’ factor. Besides, how many times have we seen fans, Wild fans among them who felt the deals made gave players too much term so I think this is a fair compromise. Let Granlund prove that 2016-17 stats were not a fluke and that he can be a regular 20+ goal scorer as a winger, because now he has all the incentive in the world to show he’s worth even more.
Granlund’s signing now leaves Marcus Foligno as the lone restricted free agent yet to be re-signed. Minnesota has $3.141 million left in cap space. Foligno, who made $1.875 million last season is looking for a bit of a pay raise but expect the Wild to stay close to that $2 million mark to give themselves some space in case emergencies arise. At that point its pretty much impossible to imagine how they could really sign anyone else which may irk some fans that were really hoping the team would bring back Matt Cullen.
Sorry folks, there just isn’t quite enough money for that.