Eric Staal didn’t get moved by the Minnesota Wild today despite being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and now we know why. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that Staal has signed a two-year extension with the Wild that will carry a $3.25MM average annual value. That will actually represent a slight reduction in average salary for Staal, who is in the last season of a three-year $10.5MM deal.
A $6.5MM guarantee for Staal immediately strikes as an extremely team-friendly deal, given that he recorded 42 goals during the 2017-18 season. Though that number has come down this year, Staal is still likely to finish as a 50+ point center this season. There were several reports of teams showing interest in Staal over the last few days, but the veteran forward had expressed his desire to stay in Minnesota. The new contract will include a modified no-trade clause.
Even at the reasonable price however, this contract does seem at odds with what the Wild have done over the last few weeks. GM Paul Fenton has made it clear he intends on changing the makeup of the team, trading Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and today Mikael Granlund. In each move Fenton has brought back a relatively young forward, but the team now looks like it might be heading towards more of a retooling period than one of real Stanley Cup contention. Even in a down year Staal likely could have brought back a substantial return on the trade market, especially when looking at the packages brought back by other centers like Kevin Hayes and Matt Duchene.
Staal ranked #19 among our Midseason UFA Power Rankings, but now won’t have to deal with the process that took him to Minnesota in the first place. The former Stanley Cup Champion with the Carolina Hurricanes is closing in on 1,000 career points and should get there with the Wild next season.