Jump to content
Hockey Wilderness
  • How Does Jake Middleton's Extension Affect the Future?

    Image courtesy of © Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
    Thomas Williams

    The Minnesota Wild weren't involved in the heavy lifting of free agency on Monday and Tuesday, but all they wanted to do was secure some depth -- like they always do.

    They first, of course, signed free agent Yakov Trenin to a four-year deal to help out as a bottom-six forward that isn't that old and should stay performing fairly well through the length of that deal. Additionally, they signed defenseman Jake Middleton to a four-year, $17.4-million ($4.35-million AAV) contract. In classic Bill Guerin fashion, he put pen to paper for a player that is well-liked a year before they officially hit free agency. Middleton is signed with Minnesota through the 2028-29 season.

    It isn't a contract that is going to kill the team. Even if you think Middleton's success in Minnesota has been a product of being next to Jared Spurgeon, at worst he is a serviceable bottom-pair defenseman and they could do a lot worse than that. 

    So, how does this new contract affect the Wild's future blue line?

    We know Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon will be here for a very long time. Brock Faber will eventually be locked up forever. And we are all (now) waiting on Zeev Buium to go professional and make his way up into the team's top four. Beyond that, everything feels very open. As for now, Zach Bogosian and Jon Merrill are here on cheap deals, and then Declan Chisholm can provide a little surge of youth and potential on the left side.

    In the immediate future, for the next season or two, Middleton should just be some stable force, even when everyone's healthy. Especially considering the lack of jump from the expected wave of defensemen like Carson Lambos, Daemon Hunt, and Ryan O'Rourke -- who have all been a disappointment so far, compared to what they were projected to be -- Middleton isn't really blocking any young player.

    Sure, you could argue that he will be eventually, but if that top four of Brodin, Spurgeon, Faber, and Buium is as expected, then Middleton will simply serve as the bottom-pair guy on the left side and the team will just cycle through random, right-handed depth blueliners.

    Could it be better? Yes, of course. Does Middleton provide some sort of security? Yeah. Is that contract a substantial overpayment? Not substantial, but they're definitely paying him well.

    Considering the pipeline and development of some players, and where the team is at right now, we are guessing that Guerin just wanted to make sure he kept his guy around. And just know that things are always fluid in the National Hockey League. Hell, players are getting traded just a year after signing extensions or bought out all the same.

    That's Wild

    • The Wild are weighing themselves down in the middle-class bloat with a whole lot of extensions to good-but-not-game-changing players. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • The Wild have announced the roster and schedule of this week's development camp.[The Hockey News]
    • The entire 2024-25 regular season schedule has been announced! [NHL.com]

    Off the trail...

    • After being bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, goalscorer Jeff Skinner signed a simple and cheap one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers to presumingly play on Connor McDavid's wing and score a billion goals. That is something that team can offer, so then players can earn big elsewhere. [Sportsnet]
    • The St. Louis Blues did all their business on Tuesday. They signed very good winger Pavel Buchnevich to a six-year contract extension, and acquired two forwards for completely free in trades -- Radek Faksa and Mathieu Joseph. [NBC Sports]
    • The latest buzz on some still-available unrestricted free agents. [Sportsnet]

    Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Featured Comments

    Middleton isn't really blocking any young player.


    This is really the problem. We're locked in at $4MM+ through 28-29, and Mids will almost assuredly be (or sure should be) blocking a younger player by the end of that deal.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    As some have pointed out recently, we don't get the full $14.7MM in cap penalties back after this year, but rather $13MM, with $1.67MM/yr. staying on the books for another four years.


    So, are the Wild locked into having only one available buyout slot all the way until 2029?  If that's the case, the multiple questionable contracts GMBG has signed (with trade protections) ove the last year look even worse.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I don't think it affects the future too much. We drafted a large defender in the 6th round this past draft who will need 5 years to be ready if he ever is. Outside of that, we really don't have someone in house who can replace his size. 

    To me, he looked a bit faster in the first half of the season than in the past, and he scored some goals. With Spurgeon out, it seemed like he may have been trying to do too much and he got caught a lot. Yet, he did have a career high in goals, and I'd assume points. 

    We get him for years where he should still be solid and good. Every team needs a Middleton type player. Ours costs $4.35m after next season. Inflation is up, even for hockey players. At some point, Shooter's going to have to buy some generic brands (or house labels) to stay within the cap. But this time he went for the name brand with the inflation price. 

    Personally, I do hope we get the physical version of Middleton too. I felt he had played a couple of years afraid to take penalties even if they were coincidentals. He was more valuable on the ice than in the box, and I think he backed off of his aggressive physical play too much. 

    • Like 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    15 minutes ago, bisopher said:

    So, are the Wild locked into having only one available buyout slot all the way until 2029?  If that's the case, the multiple questionable contracts GMBG has signed (with trade protections) ove the last year look even worse.

    Trade protection can easily be worked around. The main issue here is that the young kids coming up are not taking spots from placeholders. Guerin can move placeholders, even the Johanssons who have a full NTC. The next couple of years, there are only 3 NMCs on the roster, and 2 of those convert to M-NTCs. 

    Guerin's not the only one giving the trade protection either. Buchnevich just signed a 6 X $8m deal with trade protection. But, as we saw with NYR, NTCs aren't very protective, you can move the guys. However, to even get a bag of pucks sometimes is out of reach for compensation. 

    St. Louis picked up Mathieu Joseph yesterday for the price of taking him off their roster + a 3rd round pick. I suppose future considerations is like getting a steak dinner for the staff when they visit the city that one time each year. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Someone explain the logic of signing a guy like Middleton to a 4 year extension, for 2X his current salary, a whole year prematurely, after his play regressed.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    45 minutes ago, Will D. Ness said:

    for 2X his current salary, a whole year prematurely, after his play regressed.

    No explanation here.  Guerin's biggest blunder is the premature signings for players with marginal if any market value.  Does not compute.  If he's gaming the upcoming cap increases, I'd advise him to take a knee and prove to everyone that he can execute on the basics before any higher level thinking


    • Like 2
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I just saw that Matt Dunba signed with Dallas for 3.75 mil for 2 years. In comparison we got Middleton for a half a million more per year and extended them out for 4 years. To me it seems like bg is soft or can everybody give me your opinion do you think Middleton is that much better than dumba. There really isn't any difference between right and left-handed here because we have brodin, Chisholm and Merril as left-handers. In fact having dumba signed would give you some security in case spurgeon doesn't come back from his injury well.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...