Last week the Minnesota Wild had their end of season media sessions, and following their exit meetings with the coaching staff and general manager Bill Guerin, the players were free to return home and begin their offseason and await the start of the 2020-21 season.
With every beginning of the offseason, the focus moves towards how the roster will be different in the new year, and what players that ended the season on the roster could be absent when the puck drops again. A popular way to shed a player and/or their contract off the roster to clear some space has been buyouts, which were implemented following the lockout year of 2004-05. The Wild have been a pretty consistent team in using buyouts, especially in recent years.
The salary cap will remain flat at $81.5 million in 2020-21, and Minnesota is presently at $65.299 million on the cap with 17 players under contract for the new season (not including Kirill Kaprizov). So would Guerin exercise a buyout on a player to make space next season? Let’s take a look at the buyout candidates the general manager has on his roster this offseason.
The Swedish center was a candidate to be bought out last offseason, and lands here again in 2020. Why? Well, for a player that makes $4 million on the cap, you have to produce more than 13 points in 43 games while not being an albatross on the ice.
Paul Fenton quipped when he acquired Rask for Nino Niederreiter that you can never have too many centers. Paul, yes, that is correct. But maybe you should have said ‘good centers,’ which Rask has not been. If the Wild wanted to buy out the remaining two years of Rask’s contract, they would have a cap hit of $1.333 million annually for the next four years.
For someone who was not even looked at to play in the play-in series against Vancouver, Rask appears to be a prime buyout candidate for Minnesota this year.
It is absolutely hard to believe, but 2020-21 would be the sixth and final year of Devan Dubnyk’s contract that he signed in June of 2015 following his insane run with the Wild after being acquired that previous January.
While there are plenty of fond memories of Dubnyk in the Wild goal, there have been more negatives than positives in the past two years, as the 34-year-old has slipped in terms of production from the Wild crease.
Wild goaltending was one of the worst in the league, given the workload they faced, and it is clear that a change needs to come in net as the team would not do well by having another year of Dubnyk and Alex Stalock. Would Guerin want to pull the trigger on a buyout that would cost the Wild a cap hit for the next two seasons?
Add up all the factors, and Dubnyk might be a more logical buyout than Victor Rask when the offseason begins.
Does anyone remember that Greg Pateryn is still on the Wild roster? Injuries kept the defenseman limited to just 20 games this past season, and he was still injured when the Wild returned to the ice this past month against the Vancouver Canucks.
When Pateryn has played for Minnesota, he (like the rest of the defense) has been solid in his own zone, limiting chances for the opposition. But keeping Pateryn on the ice is a concern moving forward, and with just one year remaining on his three-year contract, a buyout is very possibly an option for Guerin and the Wild should the blue liner be eligible for one, assuming he is medically cleared.
The cost on the cap would be very little to the Wild, who could easily benefit from the roster space and additional cap cushion if they moved on from Pateryn. But again, this will all depend on if the defenseman is medically cleared. If he is not, then he will be returning for the third and final year of his contract.
Cap figures and screenshots of buyout information courtesy of CapFriendly.com.