After his 3rd consecutive 20-goal-season Nino Niederreiter's bridge deal is finally coming to an end and he will be looking for his first real big boy contract. With 25 goals and 57 points on the season, he could be getting a hefty raise.
A good comparable appears to be Brayden Schenn. Schenn, a year older, signed a $5,125,000 AAV contract for 4 years in July 2016. He was coming off a 26 goal 59 point season when he signed that deal, so it fits nicely as a comparable to Nino’s season. Noticeably, Schenn didn’t get longer than 4 years. However, it would be surprising if Nino didn’t get more than 4 years on his new deal.
Jaden Schwartz also works as a comparable. He signed his current 5-year, $5,350,000 AAV contract in July 2016 coming off a season of which he missed the majority due to injury. Before that lost season, he had two 20+ goal seasons and 55+ point seasons, so he actually had a better track record than Niederreiter does, but still works as a comparable.
Chris Kreider who signed a 4-year $4,625,000 AAV contract in July 2016, is a year older than Nino, had two 21-goal seasons and a 17-goal season year prior to his deal. He had just 43 points in his contract year but outscored Niederreiter in the previous years.
Looking at the comparable contracts to what number 22 could receive as fair market value, most players have not actually signed that long of term as the deals have been either 4-years or 5-years. The Wild should probably look to sign him long term, 6 or 7 years, with him having been consistent as a goal scorer and increasing his assist total every year. But if he does sign just a 4 or 5-year contract that’d likely put his cap hit to the $4.5 to $5.5 million ballpark, depending also on things such as no-movement/trade clauses. A “hometown discount” is possible if Niederreiter thinks that he can succeed in Minnesota under the tutledge of Bruce Boudreau. He held out on the Wild during his previous contract negotiations. This could hint that he is willing to stick to his demands for a long time. On top of his fine season, Niederreiter will also be arbitration eligible this time around. It’s an ace in the hole that he possess, but could only use it as leverage as there have only been 3 arbitration cases since 2006 that have gone to $5 million or above; and none have gone above $4 million either.
For deals of 6 or more years it was unbearably tough to find good comparables for age 25 signing for a player in Niederreiter’s position. Nazem Kadri signed a 6-year deal in 2016 with a $4,500,000 AAV and Alex Killorn signed a 7-year contract for $4,450,000. I would be quite surprised to see Nino’s AAV end up that low, but Kadri did have a 40-50 point season with nearly 20 goals for the 3 years prior to his contract, which could make things interesting. Alex Killorn doesn’t come close to Nino’s totals, but is generally considered a good two-way forward. Though Nino’s defensive stats have been excellent, it’s just not what he is mainly known for.
For the third, and unlikeliest option of a 1-year or 2-year deal there are comparables. Artemi Panarin and his 2-year $6 million AAV contract that starts next season and Chris Stewart’s 2013 deal with the St. Louis Blues that was worth $4,150,000. It is quite unlikely that Nino ends up at such a short-term deal with his bridge deal having been 3-years, but if he does, it will probably be somewhere close to Panarin’s. It might not be exactly up to Panarin’s level because he hasn’t had quite as much success as Panarin has had with the Blackhawks in the last two seasons.
His next contract will be quite dependent on what term he goes. His cap hit likely won’t be astronomical, and is dependent on the term, but I don’t see him getting above $6 million even on a 1-year contract. I’d say the likely deal is around 5 or 6 years at roughly $5 million with a ceiling of about $5.75 million. While we don’t know what Niederreiter is looking for in his new deal, we can look back on players in a similar situation to get an indication of his upcoming deal might be.