An NHL veteran who completely re-boosted his career in Minnesota, Eric Staal will need a new contract next summer. But, according to reports, the Wild are in no hurry to give him that deal.
Currently making $3.5 million for one more season, Staal was perhaps the best-valued contract in the NHL the past two seasons. With 65 points in 2016-17 and 76 points in 2017-18, Staal completely revitalized his reputation after ending his time in Carolina and having a partial season with the New York Rangers end with poor performances. With no teams willing to shell out big money to sign him via free agency, in the summer of 2016, the Wild gambled Staal simply wasn't in the right fit elsewhere and brought him, with great success.
The franchise is now left with an interesting and difficult decision.
Players producing at the level Staal is are worth $6 million to $8 million per season on a long-term deal. Staal, however, is 33 years of age and has shown that if things go south, they can go south in a hurry. While most teams are locking up their stars on long-term deals, there is a risk in the Wild doing something similar. A downturn again in production could be devastating to the organization if they give him a lucrative contract for any real length of time.
Still, there is an incentive to give Staal a good deal because another team may see his production and decide to offer him a new contract knowing a 65-75 point center is hard to find. If so, the Wild will then lose their most offensive weapon for nothing.
The decision appears to have been made to see how this coming NHL season shapes out. If Staal continues to stay red hot, the Wild will look at extending him. However, if they are not a playoff team or he falters and his contract ask is high, Minnesota may choose to trade the center.
Either way, the Wild now know they won't be getting the bargain they got with Staal the first time around. As such, the team will wait until the last possible minute to commit on a new deal making sure they get their money's worth.