The Minnesota Wild have made qualifying offers to a number of restricted free agents today (the deadline was 4pm EST), including goaltender Darcy Kuemper, d-man Jonathon Blum, and forwards Justin Fontaine, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Zucker.
This doesn’t mean a deal is done in place for any of them though. The qualifying offer keeps the player in the organization and creates a basis for a minimum salary in a one-year contract, preventing them from becoming a free agents on July 1.
Using the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement and Cap Geek’s qualifying offer calculator that means Niederreiter, Zucker, and Kuemper each earn a minimum of $850,500 next year, Blum gets a minimum of $715,000, and Fontaine gets a minimum of $650,000. These are estimates and will likely not reflect what these player’s eventual contracts look like, but that’s what their qualifying offers likely look like. All of their contracts are eligible to be two-way contracts.*
This means that, as expected, contract extensions were not offered to prospects Tyler Cuma (a first round draft pick), Kristopher Foucault, and Josh Caron. All three will become free agents at noon eastern time on Tuesday.
No big surprises here, though Blum was maybe not a given since he was used sparingly last season and will be competing with a host of other young defenseman the Wild seem very high on, including Mathew Dumba, Christian Folin, and Gustav Olofsson. That makes for a crowded blueline even if the Wild don’t acquire a defenseman through free agency in the coming days. Though, the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo is reporting that the Wild don’t appear to be courting Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen any longer.
* Qualifying offers are required to be a one-way contract when “a) the player appeared in 180 or more NHL games in three previous seasons; b) the player appeared in 60 or more NHL games the previous season; and c) the player did not clear waivers during the previous season. Backup goaltender appearances count as games.”