The Minnesota Wild have plenty of work to do this offseason when it comes to restricted free agents, but the team has scratched one name off the list. The team announced that they’ve signed Joel Eriksson Ek to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $5.25MM ($42MM total). PuckPedia reports that the deal contains a no-move clause with a ten-team no-trade clause in the final five years of the contract and breaks down as follows:
2021-22: $3MM salary
2022-23: $3MM salary
2023-24: $6MM salary
2024-25: $9MM salary
2025-26: $7.5MM salary
2026-27: $6MM salary
2027-28: $4.5MM salary
2028-29: $3MM salary
Eriksson Ek, 24, really took his game to a new level this season, scoring 19 goals and 30 points in 56 games. That offensive production, while still valuable, doesn’t compare to the defensive play that the young center brings to the table. Eriksson Ek finished fourth in Selke Trophy voting this season and played an important role on both special teams.
Interestingly, over the last few weeks, it had looked like the Wild would wait on extensions for Eriksson Ek and fellow restricted free agent Kevin Fiala until they knew what kind of number Kirill Kaprizov was going to come in at. But with no clarity coming on Kaprizov’s situation. they decided to move forward with their young center anyway.
This extension buys out six years of unrestricted free agency for Eriksson Ek, but with such pedestrian numbers in his previous three seasons, it still comes in at a reasonable cap hit for a top-six center. Before this year, he had never scored more than eight goals in a single season and had just 66 points in his first 210 NHL games. Those numbers would have also come into play had Eriksson Ek gone to arbitration, even though this recent breakout would carry more weight but instead, it won’t get to that point with this long-term deal.
Michael Russo of The Athletic was the first to report that a long-term extension was close.