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Free agency preview: Zucker, Dumba highlight Wild's own priorities

Veterans Cullen, Winnik among those set to be unrestricted free agents Sunday

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- Teams and pending free agents have been able to discuss potential new fits since Sunday when the League's legal contact period began. For the Wild, and every other team, that process typically begins with an evaluation of its own pending free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, as well as at the NHL and AHL levels.

The League announced last week that the salary cap for the 2018-19 season will increase to $79.5 million, an increase of $4.5 million from last season.

According to the website, the Wild currently has 19 players on its NHL roster accounting for roughly $65.2 million in salary. That figure includes players like Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway, players that could -- in theory -- begin the season in Iowa and not count against the salary cap.

Here is a quick look at the Wild's own free agents:

Unrestricted free agents

Free to sign with any team beginning July 1

Matt Cullen
After signing a one-year deal with Minnesota last August, Cullen scored 11 goals and 22 points and played well enough down the stretch to likely earn a contract somewhere ... if he continues playing. At 41 years old, Cullen has not publicly revealed whether he plans on coming back for a 22nd NHL season.  

Daniel Winnik
Another player who got better as last season went along, Winnik scored six goals and 23 points after earning a one-year contract on an amateur tryout during training camp. Because of his age (33) and role on a team's fourth line, he's likely not a priority for any team on July 1, but can still be a valuable veteran presence somewhere.

Kurtis Gabriel
Gabriel overcame an ugly injury to a nerve and muscle in his wrist sustained early last season to play in 42 games for Iowa, scoring three goals and eight points. Offense will likely never be his calling card, but at 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, Gabriel gives teammates increased confidence because of his toughness.

[Related: The Wild's 2018-19 schedule is out now. Visit to sync to your calendar.]

Restricted Free Agents

Can sign with any team on July 1, but Wild has right to match any contract offer or be awarded compensation

Jason Zucker
The speedy winger posted a career-best 33 goals last season to go along with 64 points. He's been trending in the right direction too, scoring 13 goals in 2015-16 before reaching 22 in 2016-17. His 31 assists last season were a career high, as well. The 26-year-old is also a model citizen in the community, as he was a finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Zucker, who is completing a two-year "bridge contract," can expect a significant raise from the $2 million cap figure he carried the past two seasons.

Video: MIN@MTL: Zucker records his first career hat trick

Matt Dumba
Another player coming off a career-best season, Dumba posted 50 points for the first time. The 23-year-old, right-shot defenseman played in all 82 games for the first time in his career, posting high-water marks in goals (14), assists (36) and points (50) while tying his career best with a plus-15 rating. Young, right-handed defensemen are valuable, and as another player coming off a "bridge contract," Dumba should see a hefty raise from the $2.25 million cap figure he had the past two years.

Nick Seeler
Seeler doesn't have the professional equity of a Dumba or Zucker yet, having made his NHL debut just last season. He skated in 22 games for Minnesota while playing in another 49 for Iowa. Drafted in 2011 out of Eden Prairie High School, Seeler played two years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha before transferring to the University of Minnesota. He should come at a reasonable cost for the organization as he aims to try and lock down a spot in Minnesota's top-six this fall. 

Video: Matt Dumba talks offseason

Iowa UFAs

Adam Gilmour 
The Wild did not make Gilmour, a center, a qualifying offer, meaning he will be free to sign with any organization on July 1.

Steve Michalek 
Like Gilmour, the goaltender will be free to sign with any organization on July 1 after the Wild opted to forego a qualifying offer.

Pat Cannone
Cannone played in three games with Minnesota in 2016-17 but has otherwise been a career AHLer -- and a good one at that. He scored 17 goals and had 39 points in Iowa last season but will likely garner nothing more than a veteran two-way deal somewhere this summer.

Kyle Quincey
Signed to a one-year contract last July 1, Quincey was expected to provide veteran stability on Minnesota's back end. It didn't work out for both he and the club, as he played in just 18 games with the Wild before being relegated to Iowa, where he didn't play a game the entire season.

Dylan Labbe
The Wild did not make the defenseman a qualifying offer, meaning he will be free to sign with any organization on July 1.

Zack Mitchell
An undrafted free agent signing by the Wild, Mitchell has been an incredible development story for the organization. He's played in 34 games with Minnesota over the past two seasons, but has been fantastic in Iowa over the last four years, where he's become one of the most popular players in the community. He got his biggest shot yet in the NHL last season, skating in 23 games with Minnesota, scoring three goals and chipping in two assists.

Zach Palmquist
The former Minnesota State Maverick and South St. Paul native posted career highs in goals (six), assists (28) and points (34) with Iowa last season while playing in 67 games.

Adam Vay
The Wild did not make him a qualifying offer, meaning he will be free to sign with any organization on July 1.

[Related: Visit for the latest on Minnesota's moves.]


Mikko Koivu 
The Wild captain was originally due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer as his seven-year contract came to a close. But he re-signed a two-year, $11 million deal last September to continue with Minnesota, a contract that kicks in this upcoming season.

Ryan Murphy
Murphy signed a one-year, two-way contract for this season on Monday. Carolina's first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft provided the Wild with critical depth in his first year with the organization, scoring four goals and 28 points in 48 games with Iowa and two goals and five points in 21 games with Minnesota, while also posting a plus-8 rating.

Kyle Rau 
The Eden Prairie native re-signed with his hometown club on Wednesday, inking a two-year, two-way contract. Rau had a fantastic season in Iowa, scoring 23 goals and 50 points in 69 games. He also assisted on one goal in three games with Minnesota, and should compete for a job with the NHL club come training camp.

Video: Fenton discusses vision for Wild


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