Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughts on Kuemper & Niederreiter

Nino Niederreiter (top middle) and Darcy Kuemper (Bottom middle) are still without contracts.
Photo: Duane Burleson/AP
This week reports surfaced that Darcy Kuemper could go play in the KHL if his contract dispute with the Wild is not settled. As Mike Russo has said on multiple occasions the Wild and Kuemper's agent, Jeff Helperl, have not had a great history as they went toe to toe in negotiations on Kuemper's entry level contract.

Well now all of a sudden, everyone is up in arms with Kuemper for his unwillingness to sign a deal that him and his agent do not like. There seems to be a belief that Kuemper has no leverage with the team, and that he should accept what the Wild are offering.

Well guess what folks? HE HAS LEVERAGE!

Had Kuemper not been as solid as he was in January in relief of the injured Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, no way do the Wild make the playoffs, The Wild were outplayed left and right in January, yet they kept winning because Kuemper was absolutely stellar between the pipes (for more on his January performance, click here). He then went on a little bit of a rough patch in March,  before getting it turned around in time to help the Wild comeback and defeat Colorado in the postseason (Kuemper got the Game Three start after Ilya Bryzgalov started Games One and Two).

Kuemper is believed to be asking for a one way contract. Problem is, both Backstrom and Harding are back to 100%. So not exactly a lot of room for a third goalie. So Kuemper should just accept a two way deal right? Well, he knows that Backstrom hasn't had a healthy season since '09-10 and Harding will probably miss time this year due to his complications with MS.

So should we be stunned that he is holding out for that kind of deal? No.

Meanwhile, you have Nino Niederreiter who has also not signed a contract for the upcoming season. But recent reports on Niederreiter signing a contract soon have been favorable despite the KHL knocking on his door.

So everyone is happy about that, right? Not a chance.

Despite only scoring 14 goals and 36 points for the Wild last year, Niederreiter was one of the team's most efficient scorers while playing more primarily in a third/fourth line role.

Courtesy of War On Ice
He took his game to new heights in the playoff series against Colorado, and had a rather large role in the deciding game seven (you may not have remembered this).

So despite the upside of Nino's 2013-14 campaign, everyone just decided he too was too greedy and should just accept what the Wild are offering. I mean, god forbid a player ask for a semi-decent deal.

The fact is, Chuck Fletcher might on board with paying these guys a bit more to get them signed, but he knows that it could come back to bite him next year. Every dollar overspent this summer will cost the Wild dearly next summer when Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Christian Folin, and Marco Scandella all become restricted free agents. So if you think that none of them will get this far without a deal like Niederreiter and Kuemper have, you are gravely mistaken (so in other words, dont call them greedy when the six players just mentioned will be in line for BIG raises next year).

As Russo has also mentioned, its been 11 years since the Wild had a contract dispute go into training camp (see: Marian Gaborik & Pascal Dupuis). Every effort will be made to get these guys signed in time for camp. Its just a process.

So please, sit down, have a cold drink, and go complain about something else. Because calling Kuemper and Niederreiter "greedy" is not the right thing to do here. They have earned the contracts coming to them.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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