Goligoski extension only adds to the Wild’s murky salary cap future
On Wednesday, the Wild answered a question: yes, they signed Alex Goligoski to a two-year, $4 million extension. In doing so, the Wild haven’t exactly answered their biggest salary cap questions, and now their defensive situation looks a bit cluttered as well.
Will the Goligoski extension signal the final boost to the Wild eventually having to part ways with a key player, perhaps in a trade with Kevin Fiala or Matt Dumba? Could Goligoski make it harder for a prospect like Calen Addison to gain ground?
Let’s break down the Goligoski expansion itself, then think about the Wild’s wider salary cap and defensive situations.
The advantages and disadvantages of the Goligoski extension for the Wild
On its own, handing Alex Goligoski $2 million a year for 2022-23 and 2023-34 makes reasonable sense for the Wild.
Its value might even escape you a little.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 29, 2022
If you look at the simplest hockey stats, people might take the Wild to keep Alex Goligoski for granted. Goligoski is the Wild’s second-leading defensive scorer, and the gap between Goligoski (28 points) and Jared Spurgeon (29) is narrow. Like it or not, many of the “200 Men of Hockey” are still watching more/less. They’ll be hit by Goligoski, then, as his +34 mark easily leads the Wild.
That said, Goligoski is already 36 and will be 37 on July 30. This age carries risks, and he apparently also received a no-move clause.
All in all, a $2 million prize isn’t so bad, and maybe it will top that value. On the other hand, the Wild have less wiggle room than most thanks to skyrocketing Zach Parise/Ryan Suter buyout prices, and they’ve sacrificed some flexibility here.
The Minnesota Wild re-signed Alex Goligoski to a two-year extension on ~$2 million a year per @RussoHockey. Goligoski has been pretty solid this year so far, especially offensively. But we don’t like this term for a 36-year-old defender. pic.twitter.com/CNwYV0vkRs
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) March 30, 2022
By one metric — Athletic player cards — Alex Goligoski’s season translated to $5.5 million in “market value” for the Wild. While that’s generous and declines rapidly with age, a $2 million bet isn’t outrageous. Especially alone.
Yet in the grand scheme of this team, it may still be a curious move.
A crowded blue line?
Strangely, and perhaps rightly so, the Wild made Alex Goligoski a healthy scratch shortly before that contract extension. For better or worse, the explanation seemed to revolve around the aging defender’s rest.
In a way, this underlines another point. Right now, the Wild’s defensive situation looks a bit cluttered.
On Jan. 11, the Wild signed another veteran defenseman (Jon Merrill, 30) for a three-year extension. Much like Goligoski, it’s a cheap deal, as Merrill will only cost $1.2 million in AAV from 2022-23 to 2024-25.
For next season, the Wild now have Jared Spurgeon (32, $7.57M cap through 2026-27), Jonas Brodin (28, $6M through 2027-28), Matt Dumba (27 years old, $6 million until 2022-23), Dmitry Kulikov (31 years old, $2.25 million until 2022-2023), Goligoski and Merrill under contract. There is also the question of the potential rise of Calen Addison.
Alex Goligoski, 36, gets a two-year extension, huh?
This gives the team 6 defenders under contract for next year – not counting Calen Addison who is ready to cook.
Gotta think something’s gonna give this summer pic.twitter.com/d0XyvE0CME
– /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) March 29, 2022
Given that his contract expires after next season, could Matt Dumba’s days be numbered with the Wild? This is not the first time we have asked this question.
Many unanswered questions about the future salary cap for the Wild
As usual, the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter buyouts weigh on the Wild’s salary cap situation. Here’s a reminder of cost versus savings, according to Cap Friendly:
2021-22: 4,743,588 million dollars ($10.3M savings)
2022-23: 12,743,588 million dollars ($2.3M savings)
2023-24: $14,743,588 million ($0.3M savings)
2024-25: $14,743,588 million ($0.3M savings)
2025-26: $1,666,666 million (-$1,666,666 savings)
2026-27: $1,666,666 million (-$1,666,666 savings)
2027-28: $1,666,666 million (-$1,666,666 savings)
2028-29: $1,666,666 million (-$1,666,666 savings)
Cap Friendly predicts the Wild will have about $8.18 million in cap space next season, with 17 spots covered. That’s if the salary cap jumps to $82.5 million, as the league recently predicted.
This impending salary cap squeeze is why people are questioning what might otherwise be more mundane deals like a Goligoski extension. It also explains why it’s possible to see a capital gain in granting Jordan Greenway a $3 million extension…
The Greenway extension costs $1.7M (on average) below its market value of $4.7M.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 31, 2022
…with questions about whether or not it can manufacture some of its value at a lower price.
Almost every decision has to go through additional steps. It’s not just “can this player age well and retain his value?” but also “is the value so strong that it’s worth having an even smaller margin of error?”
Discover a handful of questions that still linger.
- Would the Wild be better off putting some money aside for Kevin Fiala’s pending RFA? Considering he’s already set a career high with 60 points, he won’t come cheap. Are the Wild just assuming they’ll have to trade the rights to Fiala in the offseason?
- Does the Wild also assume that Matt Dumba won’t be around for very long? The market has pushed the value of defenders like Dumba through the roof, and its $6M cap expires after next season. If he’s gone, are you keeping him next season or trying to get a good trade price this summer?
[A winning streak pushes Wild up the PHT Power Rankings]
- Will the Wild try to bring back UFA Marc-André Fleury while waiting, or is it a rental? Cam Talbot is only under contract until next season, so the situation for the Wild’s goaltenders is murky. (And when do they expect Jesper Wallstedt to blossom?)
- The Wild also traded for Jacob Middleton during the deadline. Is he just a rental, or could he stay on what, again, is already a crowded blue line?
- Soaring Suter/Parise buyout prices are prompting to go all-in this season. Still, the Wild look likely to try not to burn a year off Marco Rossi’s entry-level contract. Should they just seize the opportunity and roll it out during this run, though? There is an argument anyway.
All in all, it’s a lot to digest. The Goligoski expansion gives Wild fans and watchers even more.