ST. PAUL -- It's been a busy summer for the Wild and General Manager Chuck Fletcher. But with the signing of perhaps its two biggest restricted free agents now completed, things will start to slow down for awhile around the club's headquarters.
After an earlier-than-expected exit from the postseason, Fletcher and his staff got to work right away, trying to protect Minnesota's most valuable assets in the expansion draft while also being able to improve its forward depth and take care of restricted free agents Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund -- all of this while staying within the confines of a stagnant salary cap.
It was a long job, but with just over a month remaining before players report for training camp, a bulk of that work is done.
All that remains now is hammering out a deal with restricted free agent forward Marcus Foligno, a job that Fletcher said he doesn't expect to be difficult.
"I don't anticipate major problems with Marcus," Fletcher said. "We have another month to get it done. And because he didn't file for arbitration, it certainly forced us to deal with Nino and Mikael first because they did."
Fletcher said he, as well as Assistant General Manager Shep Harder, have been doing a bulk of the work on getting the restricted free agent contracts completed.
Video: Chuck Fletcher on the offseason for the Wild
Both Niederreiter and Granlund filed for arbitration, so one way or another, their fate was going to come to a head this week; they were either going to sign deals with Minnesota as their hearing dates drew near, or an arbiter would decide their salaries.
The Wild was able to work out multi-year contracts for both.
Because Foligno didn't file for arbitration, there is no deadline to get a deal done, other than the start of training camp.
But with the team working feverishly the past couple weeks to work out Granlund and Niederreiter's contracts, and Foligno's agents doing the same for their arbitration-bound clients, his deal has been pushed to the back burner.
"I anticipate he'll be in camp, and I don't think there will be any issues," Fletcher said. "Once you get past the first week of August, it allows you more time to focus on the other [restricted free agents]."
A deal with Foligno is the final hurdle for Fletcher and Co. to deal with this summer. After that, he said, the Wild will take a look at its remaining salary cap space, leaf through the remaining unrestricted free agents a final time to see if there is a fit, and if there is, perhaps make an offer or two.
"If we have the cap space to add a player, we'll look at it if we get a good fit," Fletcher said.
Video: Foligno Eager for New Opportunities with Wild
Following the deals with Niederreiter and Granlund, the Wild has a little more than $3.8 million of salary cap space available, according to capfriendly.com.
Foligno, who made $2.25 million on a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres last season, will likely get a slight raise from that number this time, although the dollar amount dictated by the length of the contract. Typically, shorter deals carry higher cap numbers while longer deals carry lower ones.
The Wild will also want to keep some money available in case of in-season roster moves, like trades or waiver claims, that may come down the line later.
Bottom line: Fletcher said he's comfortable going to training camp with the group he has, once Foligno is brought into the fold.
"We have good depth and we have some good young players ready to make a push," Fletcher said. "We have some veteran players that we signed to two-way deals that are certainly capable of playing in the NHL."