The Minnesota Wild have two restricted free agents who opted for arbitration. Forward Brandon Duhaime and goalie Filip Gustavsson both have dates set for their arbitration hearings. Brandon Duhaime, 26, was pushing for a break-out season before his year was plagued with concussion issues. Scoring nine goals and one assist in 51 games, Duhaime scored three game-winning goals, elevating the usual fourth-line player into a more memorable place. Gustavsson, 25, was a steal in a trade for Cam Talbot with the Ottawa Senators during the 2022 off-season. He played at a Vezina-winning level all year, with a 0.931 save percentage and a 2.10 goals-against average.
Wild’s Salary Cap Issues
One of the main issues with contract negotiations this year is the dead cap space. Both this summer and the 2024 summer are the most challenging, with more than $14 million in dead money each year due to the buyout of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in 2021. After the 2024 off-season, the Wild will only have $1.6 million in dead money for four years. Even without arbitration, most contracts signed until then will be short-term.
Brandon Duhaime has been a consistent fourth-line presence during his past two seasons with the Wild. Before this season’s concussion issues, he started to show his ability to play up and down the lineup. As a wing, Duhaime plays a physical game that’s in line with the Wild’s gritty style of play. Standing 6’2″ and weighing 200 pounds, Duhaime has shown he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. With almost as many penalty minutes as games played, he is a force to be reckoned with. Duhaime has also proven to be a fan favorite with his antics.
Brandon Duhaime’s arbitration hearing is set for July 20, 2023. Duhaime is coming off of a $1.85 million, 2-year contract. While his play has been improving, his concussion issues could be a concern. With only one more year to go before becoming a UFA, Duhaime will sign a one-year deal. Most likely, the contract will be somewhere in the range of $1 million.
The biggest surprise of the off-season turned out to be the goalie swap with the Senators. Filip Gustavsson came in as a relative unknown with 10 wins and 13 losses in 23 games played with the Senators. But throughout the season, he showed that a player can find their stride with the right team. Despite a few dips, Gustavsson ended the season with 22 wins and 9 losses. At the end of the season, he was second in the league for his goals against and save percentage, behind only Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark.
Filip Gustavsson’s arbitration hearing is set for August 4, 2023. He is coming off of a two-year, $1.5 million contract. Gustavsson’s next contract will be interesting because even with his amazing play last year, there could be concern about the longevity of his amazing stats. The biggest question mark is how much Gustavsson’s contract will end up costing the cash-strapped Wild. AFP Analytics predicts either a short-term contract of one year at $3.1 million or a long-term contract of three years at $4.25 million. Both contracts