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  • What Are the Wild Going To Do With Freddy Gaudreau?

    Image courtesy of Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
    Luke Sims


    Another game, another cardio night for Minnesota Wild forward Frederick Gaudreau. The Canadian has been a shell of himself in his first season on a five-year extension. With only three goals and 10 points in an injury-filled 41-game campaign, this season has been incredibly disappointing for Gaudreau. 

    Gaudreau was a consistent player in his first two seasons with the Wild, putting up 44- and 38-point seasons, respectively. That’s tremendous value for a guy who was only making $1.2 million. 

    He played on the penalty kill and provided some elite shootout moments. Bill Guerin’s under-the-radar signing seemed to be a solid move until Guerin fell back into an old habit. He doubled down on his initial investment, signing Gaudreau to a five-year, $10.5 million extension last offseason. 

    The Wild locked Dean Evason’s favorite player into the State of Hockey until his age-34 season. At the time, it looked like Gaudreau swapped a higher dollar amount for a longer deal to give the player and the organization cost certainty. That deal was valuable at $2.1 million per year as long as Gaudreau could keep up his offensive production and play a steady two-way role. 

    But he had to maintain his play from the past two years. 

    Spoiler warning: He did not



    This season has been nothing short of catastrophic for Gaudreau. In his first two seasons in Minnesota, Gaudreau averaged 16:18 and 16:02 minutes per game, respectively. He mostly played on the second or third line with much more offensively-inclined teammates like Matt Boldy, Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello, and Kirill Kaprizov

    Now, he’s only getting 13:41 minutes per game. He’s also playing almost exclusively in the bottom six with players who are not as skilled as those aforementioned dynamos. Gaudreau’s offensive numbers have sharply declined as a result. 

    Earlier in his career, Gaudreau only scored seven points in 75 games in Nashville before accepting a two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If not for Guerin and Evason’s affinity for his former Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh, chances are Gaudreau would not have found his way to Minnesota. 

    But with four more years after this on his contract, what can the Wild do? 

    They could scratch him and try to spark something in his game. But that feels like procrastinating on a decision. It would be nice to see a young player like Adam Beckman or Marat Khusnutdinov when he comes over to get a chance to play in the top nine. 

    Demoting Gaudreau to the fourth line probably optimizes the Wild’s lineup. But having a fourth-liner on a $2.1 million contract is efficient for long-term cap management. 

    Gaudreau has a 15-team no-trade list in his contract. That means that even if the Wild could find a partner to take on his contract, Gaudreau would have a 50% opportunity to veto that deal. 

    The chances of trading him would be even worse. Declining veteran depth forwards on bad contracts are not often marketable commodities. The Wild would probably have to ship out a positive asset along with Gaudreau, like a pick or a prospect, to get rid of the contract. 

    In the summer of 2022, the Calgary Flames had to attach a first-round pick to Sean Monahan’s $6,375,000 contract to trade him to the Montreal Canadiens and received nothing in return. It was purely a salary dump, and the Flames had to give up a premier asset. 

    The Wild probably would not have to attach such a high price tag to get rid of the contract, but Monahan is a more dynamic offensive threat than Gaudreau. It’s harder to move a contract with Gaudreau’s term. 

    Minnesota could buy out Gaudreau because he has a unique buyout breakdown:


    The Wild would save $1-1.5ish million for the next four seasons and eat a $629,167 cost for the next four years until the conclusion of the 2031-32 season. That doubles the time Minnesota is committed to paying Gaudreau, but it opens up a roster spot. It also saves the team some money upfront while not burdening them like the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts.

    It’s sad to see how quickly Gaudreau’s contract became a burden. Gaudreau isn’t the player he once was, and his contract looks like it will burden the Wild unless they can find something to do with it. While it’s unlikely that they find a trade partner, Minnesota may have to buy out Gaudreau unless he can turn things around. 

    All stats and data via HockeyDB, Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, and CapFriendly unless otherwise noted.


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    2 hours ago, FredJohnson said:

    Makes no sense that he's eating up TOI when younger, more talented guys are in the press box or on the 4th line.

    How many times have we heard Guerin spout the earn thier spot routine? How is Gaudreau earning his spot at this point?

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    16 hours ago, Will D. Ness said:

    He hasn't been the same since the Reaves hit.  I don't know if he is still injured but he just doesn't have it.

    This is kind of what I was thinking, I wonder if he isn't completely healed yet. Of course we can talk about the concussion, and he apparently passed baseline protocols for that, but what about the point of contact on his body from the blind side? I believe it was Middleton who said he still had a twitch in his shoulder from a Reaves hit when Midsy was a rookie. 

    Will an offseason be what Gaudreau needs to recover? 

    I'd also like to point out that the Wild have not gone to many shootouts, especially when Gaudreau has been in the lineup. His $2.1m deal was a fair deal, especially when you consider that this is our 3rd shooter in the shootout and he was pretty much money the last 2 years. I remember him having 1 chance so far this year that he missed. 

    Since we are not going to shootouts very often, it would seem like his value is diminished because one of his roles is not seen. Even though we're not heading to shootouts, you still have to plan for them, and having a cool as a cucumber 3rd shooter is important. 

    Even analytics doesn't capture the shootout role very well, because a goal at 3rd has to be worth 1 standings point at least. But, it probably isn't with the analytics guys. 

    So, I would say that at least 1/4 of his contract is for this specialty role, and not seeing it makes us forget that this is part of his contract. I'd say for his regular shifts, he's probably useful as a $1.6m player who can play center in the bottom 6. That's probably a little below average for a player like him. 

    I've got no problems paying a guy $500k to be a shootout specialist. You never know when you're going to need that role fulfilled. 

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    Gudreau is NoJo with a heartbeat.   At least Fred looks like he wants to be there, but he’s not an NHL’r.  I will assume that BG didn’t give him a 10 yr extension to appease Deano (then fire Dean a month later).  Just too many unforced errors by Guerin last offseason locking in the apathetic old core.  The can’t miss prospects need to hit at a 75%+ rate for this team to not be the CBJackets in a couple years.  Whispers: when are the can’t miss defenseman prospects going to make the next step? *crickets* 


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