The Minnesota Wild didn’t issue a qualifying offer to Ryan Murphy, but that’s because they’ve instead signed him to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level. Murphy was scheduled to be a restricted free agent, and had he been given a qualifying offer would have received arbitration rights. That could have ended in a higher salary for the 25-year old defenseman, something the Wild will now avoid by inking him to a minimum deal.
Murphy played 21 games this season for the Wild, and was a key depth option for them while they dealt with various injuries. Once a first-round pick by the Carolina Huricanes, Murphy never has been quite able to reach the lofty offensive heights many expected. While he has good numbers in the minor leagues, he’s played just 172 games in the NHL to this point and looks like a part-time player at best going forward.
Still, Minnesota needs players like this as they continue to do battle with the salary cap. Though they have around $11.3MM in cap space at the moment, both Jason Zucker and Mathew Dumba need new contracts and will eat up basically that whole amount. The team is held down by the two massive contracts for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, something that will get even worse as the pair heads into their mid-thirties and start to slow down. Players like Murphy, who can contribute but barely cause any cap pain are key if the Wild are to continue to stay competitive.