The Minnesota Wild announced today that they have re-upped restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba to a two-year, $5.1MM contract. The young blue liner, who just turned 22 a few days ago, is already entering his fourth year in the NHL and had a career high 26 points last season.
The two-year extension, which pays Dumba $2.35MM is 2016-17 and $2.75MM in 2017-18 for a cap hit of $2.55, for all intents and purposes is a textbook bridge deal. Rather than agreeing to a long-term, expensive extension, which has become the norm around the league, the sides have agreed to a further evaluation period at a reasonable salary. If Dumba continues to develop into the top-pairing defenseman he has been projected as, then he will cash in big after this new contract expires. However, the Wild mitigate some risk giving Dumba a short-term deal that will still leave him as a restricted free agent at its conclusion, rather than committing to a long-term deal at a much higher price for an asset that they are still evaluating.
The signing of Dumba signals the likely end of any further off-season moves for Minnesota. While Dumba’s name, as well as the names of fellow defenseman Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella, have been tossed around as rumored trade candidates, the Wild seem to be set going into the season with a full roster that is under the salary cap and has the makings of a playoff team.
The contract could also set the bar for many other unsigned restricted free agents whose teams would prefer bridge deals over long-term commitments. Examples include Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, Ottawa’s Cody Ceci, and Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm. With Dumba now extended and off of the market, the trade stock of those players will also increase. Keep an eye on that trio as the regular season continues to get closer and closer.