Jun 12, 2018

By Jacob Born (@Jacob_Born)

The 2017-18 hockey season is coming to a close. Both the Stanley Cup and ECHL’s Kelly Cup have been award to their respective champions and the Calder Cup is quickly following suit. Soon, there won’t be any hockey on TV.

Feel free to grab some tissues.

But even though we’re dangerously close to no hockey for months, front offices are still bustling with offseason duties as key dates approach.

The NHL Draft Combine just wrapped in Buffalo. The NHL Entry Draft takes place in Dallas on June 22-23, followed closely by the beginning of free agency on July 1. And sandwiched between the draft and the beginning of free agency is the deadline to extend qualifying offers.

By submitting a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent, a team guarantees negotiating rights to that player for the upcoming season. Teams do not have to submit a qualifying offer to one of its restricted free agents. If a player is not offered a qualifying offer, they become unrestricted free agents and can sign with any team when free agency begins on July 1.

The following players are eligible for qualifying offers after playing significant minutes with Iowa during the past few seasons: Nick Seeler, Ryan Murphy, Adam Gilmour, Steve Michalek, Adam Vay and Dylan Labbe.

Players such as Seeler and Murphy stand out among the group due to their split time between Minnesota and Iowa.  

Seeler became one of the great stories of the season for both Iowa and Minnesota. After 49 games where he had 12 points (2g, 10a), Seeler received his first recall to Minnesota and made his NHL debut on February 13. His physical style of play coupled with his shutdown defense caught the eye of the coaching staff and fans alike, as he skated in 22 NHL games and added five playoff games.

Murphy skated in 48 AHL games and 21 NHL games. With Iowa, Murphy had 28 points (4g, 24a) and he recorded five points (2g, 3a) with Minnesota. He provided a veteran presence on the blueline for Iowa and provided much needed depth for the big club. 

Both Steve Michalek and Adam Vay spent time with Iowa this season, splitting time in the net with Niklas Svedberg. Michalek finished the season with a 12-7-4-2 record, recording a 3.13 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He also spent five games with Rapid City Rush of the ECHL, where he went 3-2-0-0 with a 3.18 goals against average and a .880 save percentage.

As for Vay, most of his time was with Rapid City, where he went 13-17-1-2 with a 3.29 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. When he was with Iowa he had a 0-1-1-0 record with a 4.91 goals against average and a .868 save percentage.

Labbe also spent significant time with Rapid City this season, where he skated in 42 games and posted eight points (2g, 6a) and had 43 PIM. Gilmour did not play in the 2017-18 season.

Extending qualifying offers to these players is just another note on the long to-do list of new Wild General Manager Paul Fenton. The deadline is a few weeks away, but it’s worth paying attention to, as these qualifying offers help set the table and fill out rosters ahead of free agency. 

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