If you're a veteran player looking for term, Minnesota is the place to be. Defenseman Jonas Brodin has signed an extension with the Wild that will pay the Swedish national $42 million over seven years, beginning with the 2021-22 season.
What Minnesota gets here is the security of knowing one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL is now locked up on their blueline until 2028. Brodin also gets that security because the new pact comes with a no-move clause, meaning he won't be exposed to Seattle in the upcoming expansion draft and can choose his own path should his time in Minnesota ever sour.
Playing mostly with Matt Dumba this season, Brodin matched up often against some of the West's most dangerous forwards, such as Nathan MacKinnon, Leon Draisaitl and Johnny Gaudreau. Though the 27-year-old doesn't provide a lot of offense, his shutdown abilities and skating acumen make him a valuable commodity on the back end - and Dumba's rushing skills offered the perfect foil in terms of offensive capabilities.
The contract extension gives Brodin a $6 million cap hit and that is certainly fair value for a top-four D-man who still has a number of good years ahead of him. The challenge for the Wild will be to morph into a contender sooner than later.
Though this deal was signed by new GM Bill Guerin, it has all the hallmarks of the big contracts the Wild have doled out in the past decade. The long term and the no-move clause puts Brodin in line with teammates such as Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon.
The problem so far for Minnesota is that this group hasn't been able to get any traction in the post-season and history will tell you that NHLers tend not to get better in their mid-thirties, though sometimes a goaltender will prove to be the exception to that rule.
There is help coming to Minnesota in the form of Russian rookie Kirill Kaprizov, who has ripened to taste in the KHL and has the dynamic skill set to make an immediate impact in the NHL for 2020-21. In terms of readiness, think of Evgeny Kuznetsov when he made his debut with the Washington Capitals.
Minnesota also got a breakout performance from winger Kevin Fiala this year and the Swiss national is still on the upswing at the age of 24. Prospects to look for in the coming years include center Alexander Khovanov, defenseman Calen Addison and left winger Adam Beckman, with another winger at Boston College in Matthew Boldy to follow.
With veteran contracts to players such as Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal and Devan Dubnyk either expired or expiring next year, the chance for rebirth in Minnesota is there. But Guerin will have to be wily with his cap space, since he'll be working with a flattened number brought on by the revenue-sapping Covid-19 pandemic.
Because of all the long-term deals Minnesota has signed over the years, the Wild already have more than $40 million dedicated to just six players in 2022-23 and half of them will be in their late thirties (Parise, Suter and Zuccarello). Brodin and Dumba will be the best players from that cohort by then, assuming Dumba is still in town - he is the only one without a no-move clause, after all, and has a highly-coveted skill set that would make him a trade target for other franchises.
All in all, Brodin's new contract looks great for the first half of its length and may still be a good one in the latter half, depending on the shape of the franchise and the NHL's salary cap.