Just because the Minnesota Wild suddenly have about $10 million in extra cap space this offseason doesn’t mean they are going to break the bank to sign free agents Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala.
That much general manager Bill Guerin made clear Tuesday after shockingly buying out veteran stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
“This does not mean more money for everybody and this and that,” Guerin said. “Nuh, uh.” Asked if he was sure, Guerin looked at the reporter and said, “I’m positive.”
In other words, the decision to cut bait with Parise and Suter wasn’t designed to create more money to give Kaprizov and Fiala. While it’s still going to take a pretty penny to get both players to sign, Guerin emphasized that the extra cap space will be used to fill out the rest of the roster. It also might give Guerin some flexibility to explore the trade market as he continues his search for a No. 1 center.
“We really didn’t have enough cap space to field a full team,” Guerin said. “Now this doesn’t mean there’s oodles of cap space to spend carelessly and we are going to get whoever we want to get. That’s not the case. We need to try to retain some of the players we have, and we are going to have to hit the free-agent market and try to fill in that way.”
Though he was able to create some extra cap space by buying out Parise and Suter, the decision itself puts a lot of pressure on Guerin to make some shrewd moves this offseason. That’s because the savings effectively disappear after this offseason.
After only being charged $2.371 million against the cap for both players in the 2021-22 season, according to CapFriendly, the Wild will be charged $6.371 million against the cap for both players in 2022-23, $7.371 million in 2023-24, $7.371 million in 2024-25, and then $833,333 in the 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28 and 2028-29 seasons.
“We got a big savings this year and it slowly … well, not slowly … it quickly goes down,” Guerin acknowledged. ” Look, we’ve planned out for all that stuff. We know what we are in for. We know it’s going to be difficult. But we are going to try and keep progressing.”
As for signing Kaprizov and Fiala — which is still the team’s top priority this offseason — Guerin is slowly making progress on that front. He spoke with Kaprizov’s agent Paul Theofanous last week and made contact with Fiala’s representation about a week and a half ago. No deals are expected in the immediate future.
“We have good conversations,” Guerin said. “We are not afraid of going back and forth. We are taking our time. This is how it goes.”
If anything is clear at this point, though, it’s that Guerin has every intention on building around Kaprizov and Fiala moving forward. Think of it as a changing of the guard with Parise and Suter no longer part of the roster.
“This team has to evolve,” Guerin said. “I know that there was great affection for a lot of the players that we have parted ways with the last couple of years, and for good reason. There’s been some good years here. But times change, players get older, new players come in. We have to keep evolving. This is part of it. It’s not a fun part. But it’s part of it.”