From: Twin Cities
The latest from Russo:
The Minnesota Wild have re-signed center Joel Eriksson Ek to an eight-year, $42 million contract, the team announced Friday.
The deal has an average annual value of $5.25 million. Eriksson Ek, who was set to be a restricted free agent, will have a modified, 10-team no-trade clause starting in the fourth year of the deal, a source told The Athletic's Michael Russo.
The eight-year term is the third-longest in franchise history behind Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who each inked 13-year contracts.
Eriksson Ek, 24, posted a career-high 19 goals and added 11 assists (30 points) in 56 games this season while finishing fourth in voting for the Selke Trophy, given to the league's best defensive forward.
The 24-year-old has been with Minnesota for his entire five-year career, with 43 goals and 53 assists since being drafted No. 20 in 2015. He was drafted 20th overall by the Wild in 2015.
Why the Wild prioritized extending Eriksson Ek
Michael Russo, Wild senior writer: The Wild turned their attention to getting Eriksson Ek re-signed after it became apparent that the Kirill Kaprizov deal would not be quick and simple. While general manager Bill Guerin said the Kaprizov talks have not “gone cold,” as was speculated, the negotiations haven’t gone as smoothly as Guerin would have hoped.
What must he do to justify the deal?
Russo: On a team that lacks center depth, Eriksson Ek is the Wild’s best center by far. He has been developing into one of the sport’s top shutdown centermen for the past few years, but last season, he began to finish and scored a career-high 19 goals.
Eriksson Ek is a relentless forechecker, hard worker and perennially the player that comes to training camp in the best shape. Guerin wants players who want to “be here,” and clearly Eriksson Ek showed that commitment with this deal.
If he continues as one of the league’s best defensive forwards but complements that with a continued willingness to drive the net and produce, this will be a below-market value contract once Eriksson Ek gets deep into it.
Minnesota's other top offseason priorities
Russo: Getting Kaprizov signed remains the top priority. It’s believed Guerin’s made lucrative contract offers of seven and eight years that would make Kaprizov the highest-paid player per year in franchise history. However, so far, it’s believed Kaprizov is seeking a short-term deal, something Guerin doesn’t want to entertain since Kaprizov could become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
The Wild are also trying to re-sign Kevin Fiala, but that negotiation is also not expected to be easy, and he could be dangled in trade talks this offseason.