A Wild Lesson

David Berding / USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't seen the Minnesota Wild appear to have hit a jackpot on rookie and 2015 5th round draft pick Kirill Kaprizov out of Russia. With a goal and an assist last night he now has a rookie leading 13 points on the season. He's also sporting a +6 rating out on the ice this season. Very solid numbers for a rookie. He also makes plays like this.

A nice power play goal as well.

Kirill is likely the favorite for the Calder at the moment. He leads all rookies in points scored and he's played less games than mostly all of them. He's one of the few rookies with a positive +/- on the ice. Looking into Kirill and the Wild for this blog made me think about the situation the Wild find themselves in now with young players on the rise, but heavy baggage thanks to the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter's deals.

Entering the 2012 free agency the Wild went a couple straight seasons at around the .500 mark. They were looking to make a splash that would put them over the top, so they went out and spent some money. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both got matching 13yr/$98,000,000 deals. These deals have cap hits of $7.5M cap hits through the 2024-2025 season. Zach will be 40 and Ryan, 39 when these deals expire. This is extremely troubling considering the decline in production both players are showing, especially so far this season. Zach and Ryan have 7 and 6 points respectively this season in 15 games played. Both are sporting a net - on the ice the past 4 seasons. Minnesota hasn't made the playoffs in 2 years (I'm not counting last years bubble as a playoff appearance). Presumably their production will only continue to decline over the last 4 years of their contracts and Minnesota will be stuck with a $15M cap hit for two aging players with declining numbers. The only results Minnesota has to show for these deals is 2 second round playoff losses in 2014 and 2015. These two are going to be major issues for a young team looking to add some talent to an emerging roster. Especially true when you factor in other deals like Zuccarello's $6M/yr through 2024 and Spurgeon's $7.6M/yr through 2027.

This goes into my baseball blog from yesterday. Teams are making bets on long term deals with high salaries that seem to carry way more risk than reward. Were Parise and Suter the missing pieces to Minnesota's championship run back in 2012, no probably not, and in time they proved they were not. Yet Minnesota gave them both 13yr/$98,000,000 deals that would pay them till they are 40. Why? Why do teams continually seem to kneecap themselves far into the future for what may or may not even be a chance at the ultimate prize now? Why do the Padres give the same contract that the Dodgers gave to Mookie Betts to a player with just 500 at-bats? Why do the Angels pay Mike Trout over $420M when the team around him is not close to being a contender? Maybe for teams like the Wild and Angels, it's just in a bid to stay relevant. The front offices don't have the means or experience to build a contender, so they settle for the guys that keep them relevant, and give the fanbase a little hope and something to come watch. Perhaps winning was never the goal, it was just profitable mediocrity with consequences down the road that would be dealt with when the time comes. Likely by new front office personnel because these deals got the old staff fired. Maybe hindsight is always 20/20 and it's easy for me to sit here and say well obviously these deals were never going to work out. In Minnesota's case I think it was clear that it was going to be a failure from the beginning. Best of luck Wild fans. You likely won't reach that light at the end of the tunnel until 2025 at the earliest.