Minnesota Wild: Will Justin Fontaine Be Back Next Season?


Justin Fontaine had a very difficult season and saw his offensive production plummet further.  With the Wild looking to shape up their roster this offseason, it might be safe to say the Fontaine may have played his last game in a Wild sweater.

The Minnesota Wild have lots of hard decisions to make in the personnel department this offseason.  As new coach Bruce Boudreau sizes up his new team with GM Chuck Fletcher’s help, there will certainly have to be some hard moves made.  Many of the players that have called Minnesota home for the last couple of seasons may be finding themselves new homes.  With a valuable current cap hit of $1 million per season, it seems that impending UFA Justin Fontaine will be part of the group find himself looking for a new home next season.

Justin Fontaine found out that not being drafted was actually one of the best things that could have happened to him.  On the 19th of April 2011 the then UMD forward signed a free-agent entry level contract to play in the NHL and stay in Minnesota with the Wild.  The undrafted forward had been a huge contributor to the national champion Bulldogs in his senior year in 2010-11 with 56 pts, and he was set to make sure the NHL knew that overlooking him in the draft was a mistake.

His rookie year in 2013-14 with the Wild he was well on track for greatness as he tallied 13 goals in 66 games.  Over the next two seasons though Fontaine’s goal scoring production never reached his rookie year mark.  This last season Fontaine only scored 5 goals in 60 games, and spent a few games as a healthy scratch.  As the fifteenth best goal scorer on the team there were four players who made less money than Fontaine, but scored more goals.

With three big RFAs Zucker, Dumba, and Kuemper needing to be signed for $1 million plus, Fontaine’s salary becomes very important.  Additionally, Fontaine will be more than within his right to negotiate at a starting point that is more than his current $1 million per year salary.  So is it worth paying Fontaine more salary for decreased production?

Of course there is a scenario where the Wild retain Fontaine.  Perhaps some of the free agent targets the Wild have in mind don’t pan out, or they can negotiate to re-sign Fontaine for less than his current cap hit.  You never know what can happen as the summer plays out.

Next: Minnesota Wild Make Bruce Boudreau Head Coach

Still with big changes promised by the Wild management, you have to see the underperforming Fontaine as an easy way to effect that change.  Fontaine may very well have more to contribute, but now it seems as if that he’ll have to make his contributions somewhere outside of Minnesota for the first time in his NHL career.