July 27: Rau’s deal has been officially announced by the Wild, confirming the terms reported yesterday.
July 26: The Athletic’s Michael Russo is reporting that the Minnesota Wild have re-signed forward Kyle Rau to a one-year, two-way contract extension. The deal carries the league minimum average annual value of $750,000 and will pay him $300,000 per year at the minor-league level with $350,000 in guaranteed money. CapFriendly is also reporting that they’ve re-signed netminder Andrew Hammond to a one-year/two-way deal, paying the ’Hamburglar’ $200,000 at the minor-league level with $250,000 in guaranteed money.
Rau’s been the definition of “good solider” ever since joining the Wild organization ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. After being drafted 91st overall by the Florida Panthers in 2011, Rau signed with the Wild in free agency after not being issued a qualifying offer by the Panthers. A former captain at the University of Minnesota, Rau’s been one of the best players for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild. With depth stretched thin this past season, though, Rau spent the entirety of the year up with the Wild, either in the lineup or on the team’s taxi squad. He mustered just two assists in 14 contests, however, and will likely return to a scoring role in Iowa next season.
For Hammond, this contract extension gives him a chance to play his first game as a member of the Minnesota Wild organization. He was signed prior to 2020-21 to serve as the team’s taxi squad netminder after Alex Stalock was placed on LTIR. After Kaapo Kahkonen cemented himself in the NHL and Stalock became healthy, Stalock was claimed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers, meaning that Hammond would stay on the taxi squad without getting the chance to play in Iowa. And since Kahkonen and Cam Talbot maintained their health throughout the season, Hammond never got game action with the big club, either. While the days of him stealing games at the NHL level are long gone, Hammond still remains as a viable starting option in the AHL with the option for some fringe starts in case of injury with Minnesota next year.