NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2022
A look at the Wild’s offseason priorities and the latest on Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith as he approaches UFA eligibility in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WILD?
ESPN.COM: Kristen Shilton looks at the Minnesota Wild’s keys to the offseason following their first-round postseason elimination by the St. Louis Blues. General manager Bill Guerin goes into the summer with roughly 15 percent of his salary-cap payroll eaten up in dead cap space from last year’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Contract negotiations with Kevin Fiala will be a priority. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.1 million contract after a career-high 85-point performance.
Goaltending will also be an issue with Marc-Andre Fleury slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Cam Talbot has one season remaining on his contract but they’re in need of a reliable backup. Guerin must also re-sign RFA defenseman Jacob Middleton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Wild have almost $79 million invested in 23 players for next season, with over $12 million of that going to Parise and Suter.
Fiala enjoyed a terrific performance, providing invaluable scoring punch to their lineup. However, he was held to just three assists in the Wild’s six-game series against the St. Louis Blues and appeared frustrated at times over his lack of production. That could have an effect on contract talks with Guerin.
Coming up with the cap space for Fiala, Middleton, and a new backup will mean shedding some salary via trades. Unless Guerin ships out Fiala and Middleton and goes with cheaper replacements, he might have to peddle Matt Dumba, who’s frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past two years. Dumba is slated next summer for UFA status and carries a $6 million cap hit for 2022-23.
LATEST ON REILLY SMITH
LAS VEGAS SUN: Danny Webster reported Reilly Smith could be a hot commodity in this summer’s free-agent market. The 31-year-old winger is slated to become a UFA and had 38 points in 56 games this season until sidelined by injury for the final six weeks of the schedule.
Webster stated there was mutual interest between Smith and the Golden Knights on a contract extension. However, the club is already $500K over the $82.5 million cap for next season with only 18 players under contract. They’ll have to decide if trading someone like Evgenii Dadonov, William Karlsson, Laurent Brossoit or even Robin Lehner is worth bringing back Smith.
Smith is completing a five-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5 million. The Golden Knights won’t go that high but Webster suggested clubs like the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils or Ottawa Senators might be willing to pay that much.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be interesting to see what the Golden Knights do after missing the playoffs for the first time in their short franchise history. Smith could be allowed to walk away or they could shake things up with some cost-cutting deals that also enable them to bring him back if he’s willing to accept a bit of a pay cut to stay in Vegas.