Unruly “good” contracts stopped getting a deal in Philae

Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn released a full breakdown of his NHL contracts on Wednesday. Minnesota Wild did very well, placing fourth among the teams in decade efficiency. With the exception of Brandon Dohemi, Matt Domba, and Tyson Jost, Luszczyszyn plans every Wild contract to hand over its cost.

Heck, even bad contracts are good. Each is only a year long, and is only expected to provide value – $2.4 million less than the cost, combined. Freddy Gaudreau’s $1.2 million deal is expected to generate a surplus of $2.2 million, which would nearly cancel it out on its own. Then Minnesota got Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, Joel Erickson Eck and many other players providing surplus value. It is a good place to be.

Of course, some of it is done out of necessity. The Wild has two very ineffective pests on their pay cap, with takeover penalties imposed by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter leaving a hole of nearly $13 million in their pay cap. With that said, Minnesota has to go for bargains, avoid long and inefficient free agent deals, and be selective in re-signing players.

This is a big reason why they dropped top scorer Kevin Villa from 85 points after this season. They couldn’t afford it. “We don’t have much space,” Bill Guerin said at the time. “Honestly, to keep him, we have to trade three guys and drain the team even more. It just doesn’t fit.”

It was only logical. Trade the guy who is about to get a profitable contract so that you can keep several parts on the team. Combine that with a reasonable return in the draft pick that became Liam Öhgren and Brock Faber, and the case was sealed. right?

Then you scroll down to the team in thirteenth, the Los Angeles Kings. Who topped the list of the best contracts? Nothing but a vial.

Luszczyszyn gave Fiala a 7-year deal worth $55 million A.D. He expects the contract to provide $19 million in surplus value to Kings over the life of the trade while giving him a 67% chance of performing the deal. It’s one of 36 nodes to receive an “A” or better grade. Even better, going forward, Luszczyszyn expects only 13 of those deals will exceed Fiala’s surplus value.

Simply put, this is one of the best contracts in the league. He is better than anyone in the wild, except for Kaprizov, whom Luszczyszyn . slapped He gives an A+ and expects to realize $22 million on surplus value. Or we can look at this another way. Having Kaprizov at $9 million from AAV and Fiala in its $7.9 million shipment would give Minnesota $8.21 million in combined surplus value. That by itself would offset about 65% of the acquisition fines.

Instead, Wild is stuck with a lot of “good” contacts that somehow aren’t particularly useful or mobile. A deal like Hartmann is sure to always be in demand, as is Ericsson Eck, Jared Spurgeons or Jonas Prudden. But as you get down to the bottom of the squad, you start to see contracts that are more efficient than they really are for the league.

Take Alex Goligowski, for example, who signed a mid-season extension to a two-year deal totaling $4 million. Luszczyszyn ventures dealing with $11 million in value, but that doesn’t add anything. Goligowski’s icy time decreased as the season went on, and he appeared to be the most effective besides Spurgeon. He almost certainly won’t be with Spurgeon next year, and he turned 37 last week. Is Minnesota really betting on getting great value out of this deal?

Then there’s Jake Middleton, who has signed a three-year ($2.45 million) extension that’s expected to bring in an additional $2.9 million in value over the next three seasons. That depends on Middleton not holding back after he came out of nowhere in his 26-year-old rookie season. Luszczyszyn’s model only has 56% to offer a relatively modest contract. Not much better than flipping a coin.

Dmitriy Kulikov ($1.5 million projected surplus on a $2.3 million contract) is essentially non-tradable, although Luszczyszyn model admires his contract. He’s currently out in the wild, which means they may bury him in the AHL once John Merrill is healthy. Speaking of Merrill, Luszczyszyn expects him to turn over $1.5 million annually on a $1.2 million contract. That’s right, booked for three years to get less than $400,000 in savings per year. Don’t spend it all in one place.

Guerin’s best contract decision since last season (with the exception of Kaprizov) was to extend Jordan Greenway. He signed Greenway, with an expected value of $4.5 million per season, to a $3 million AAV deal. this is good! But is it as good as getting a $10.6 million player for less than $8 million? Mostly not!

When combined, these deals likely won’t bring in the excess value that Fiala would. Taken together, Luszczyszyn forecasts that the Goligoski, Middleton, Kulikov, Merrill and Greenway contracts will raise $17 million in surplus value. That’s less than the $19 million Fiala is likely to bring in. So, maybe not having three guys was worth it. Maybe even four or five. Perhaps more, if you consider, say, Jost’s contract for next year.

There may have been other good reasons to move Viala. It’s quite possible that Guerin and Dean Evason are right to take it easy. Perhaps you think the payoff for him, especially if you include the flexibility to swing on Danila Yurov, was worth it. These are all valid.

What is not true, however, is the idea that they cannot afford a Viala. As we said in April, this decision was made by the front office to give some players priority over Villa. It may work in the long run. But when you stack Fiala’s contract against several other companies that Minnesota has signed over the past year, it looks like they made the wrong decision to delve deeper into star power.

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