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May 26, 2024

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THE MINNESOTA WILD AREN’T ALONE WITH THEIR DEAD CAP BURDEN

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Managing the financial burden of paying players who aren’t contributing on the ice is a challenge familiar to the Minnesota Wild, along with four other teams.

Two years have passed since Bill Guerin executed an assertive strategy to reshape the Minnesota Wild’s roster.

By executing the buyouts for the final four seasons of the 13-year contracts belonging to left wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, Guerin swiftly injected youthful vigor into his squad. Although the direct cost of these buyouts stood at a reasonably manageable $13.3 million, the true impact came from the salary-cap ramifications linked to these back-diving contracts.

As a result of the players receiving the majority of their $98 million total contract values in the initial nine seasons, the buyouts translated into a substantial cap charge for Minnesota, amounting to over $53 million spread across eight seasons.

In the aftermath of these buyouts, the Wild have achieved impressive seasons, boasting 113 and 103 points, and clinching playoff berths. Particularly noteworthy was their performance last season, even with the weight of $12.74 million in dead cap space.

This figure now ascends to its pinnacle at $14.74 million for the ensuing two seasons. Subsequently, it will taper down to $1.67 million annually during the final four seasons of the buyout period.

While the Wild are guided by the prolific scorer Kirill Kaprizov, who carries a $9 million cap hit, and witness the investment in 22-year-old Matt Boldy surge to $7 million this autumn, Guerin finds himself compelled to economize in other aspects.

THE MINNESOTA WILD AREN’T ALONE WITH THEIR DEAD CAP BURDEN

With a dependable goaltending duo of Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury, totaling just over $7 million, Guerin also succeeded in securing $200,000 retained by the Tampa Bay Lightning when acquiring Patrick Maroon through a trade on July 3. Additionally, he will rely on promising rookies Marco Rossi and Brock Faber to assume significant roles under their budget-friendly entry-level contracts.

While the Wild shoulder the heaviest dead cap burden by a substantial margin, they are not alone in this predicament. In fact, only five NHL teams enter the 2023-24 season without any dead cap space. These teams have managed to navigate the challenges of the salary cap environment by skillfully handling buyout charges, retained trade salaries, and bonus overages from the previous season.

Kudos to the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights for their adept handling of these demanding cap circumstances.

This year, a total of fourteen teams contend with bonus overages, constituting nearly half of the league. Among them, the Boston Bruins face the most significant challenge, absorbing a notable $4.5 million after signing Patrice Bergeron ($2.5 million) and David Krejci ($2 million) to bonus-laden 35-plus contracts during the prior season.

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