Jun 14, 2019

The 2018-19 hockey season has officially come to a close. The Charlotte Checkers won the Calder Cup by defeating the Chicago Wolves on June 8 to earn a 4-1 series lead. In the NHL, the St. Louis Blues hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time, beating the Boston Bruins in Game 7.


With the 2018-19 season officially over, it’s time to look ahead to 2019-20.


There are plenty of items Wild fans should be aware of heading into the offseason, from returning players for next season to key dates. All of that, and more, can be found below.


The most pressing question most fans probably have is who will be back next season. As of publishing, Iowa has 13 players under contract that spent a majority or significant time in the AHL for next season. Added to that is four players who are restricted free agents, which means the organization holds their rights and has the ability to match any contract offers presented by other teams. Five players who played for Iowa this season are unrestricted free agents, which means they can sign with any team they wish without restrictions.


Below is a list of Iowa Wild players under contract, restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs).


Under contract: Luke Kunin, Will Bitten, Mason Shaw, Dmitry Sokolov, Kyle Rau, Gerry Mayhew, Colton Beck, Sam Anas, Mike Liambas, Matt Bartkowski, Gustav Bouramman, Brennan Menell, Kaapo Kahkonen


RFAs: Hunter Warner, Michael Kapla*, Carson Soucy*, Louie Belpedio*

* - has arbitration rights


UFAs: Cal O’Reilly, Matt Read, Landon Ferraro, Nate Prosser, Andrew Hammond


Of the players who spent most of their time in Minnesota, Jordan Greenway and J.T. Brown are under contract and Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Donato are restricted free agents. Donato has arbitration rights.


Any player can sign an extension with their current team whenever. But on July 1, free agency opens, meaning the official start of a new season and allowing players to sign contracts with new teams.


This date and other important dates Wild fans will want to pay attention to are below.


June 19 – NHL Awards


Held annually in Las Vegas, the NHL Awards show gives recognition to players and executives alike while sprinkling in performances and celebrity appearances. This year, Minnesota’s Jason Zucker is nominated for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, which honors leadership qualities and humanitarian contributions. Zucker was nominated for his efforts with the #Give16 campaign, which raised more than $1.2 million in less than 12 months for children at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.


June 21-22 – NHL Entry Draft


Arguably the biggest offseason event, the 2019 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Vancouver. Minnesota owns eight picks in the draft, one in every round and two in the sixth. Minnesota is currently slated to draft 12th in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, where players such as Max Domi, Ryan Murphy, Cam Fowler and Calvin de Haan were selected in recent years.


June 23 – UFA Interview Period Begins


A relatively new concept to the NHL, starting on June 23, potential free agents can start meeting with NHL clubs. While no contract details can be discussed, the week leading up to free agency opening up is so players can get a feel for markets, teams, management and cities before July 1 to make the most informed decision possible.


June 24 – 28 – Development Camp


Immediately following the NHL Entry Draft, Minnesota will host its development camp for prospects in St. Paul. In past seasons, development camp has been in mid-July, but the organization moved it up this season. Prospects not just from the 2019 draft but draft picks from the last few drafts and camp invites will hit the ice for training with the Minnesota staff and participate in other team-building activities.


June 25 – Qualifying Offers Due


If a team would like to continue to hold the rights to a restricted free agent, it must extend a qualifying offer to those players by the June 25 deadline. All qualifying offers are one-year deals and must be anywhere between 100 and 110 percent of last season’s salary, depending on the previous season’s salary. Any player that does not receive a qualifying offer automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. A player accepting a qualifying offer will play under that contract for the upcoming season, while declining the offer means the two sides must continue negotiating a contract for the upcoming season. All qualifying offers expire on July 15.


June 25– NHL Schedules Released


Circle your calendar now and then be prepared to circle some more dates. Schedule releases are great because fans get to start planning which game they’re going to attend and which road trips they’re going to dread. It’s another step forward to next season.


June 26 – RFA Interview Period Begins

Much like their UFA counterparts, restricted free agents will have the opportunity to talk to organizations before July 1. This interview period serves the same purpose; allowing players to get a feel for the suiting organizations. However, terms cannot be discussed and offer sheets can’t be signed until free agency begins.


July 1 – Free Agency Begins


Free agency opens on July 1, officially beginning the new 12-month calendar for the NHL. On July 1, an unrestricted free agent can sign with any club. Restricted free agents are allowed to sign an offer sheet starting on July 1 as well, but the club that holds the rights to an RFA has a week to match the offer sheet if signed. This is another major day for hockey fans, as the rosters for the upcoming season really start to take shape.


July 5 – Salary Arbitration Deadline


If a player has been in the NHL longer than four years (or less if the first contract is signed after age 20), either the club or player may file for arbitration by July 5. The arbitration process then begins on July 20 – August 4, but players and clubs may still negotiate and sign contracts before the arbitration hearing date.


Mid-July – AHL Schedule Released


The AHL has not announced an official date to release its schedule, but in years past, the announcement has come in mid-July. Due to priorities in certain buildings, the schedule release is delayed, but it’s still a major day for AHL fans. In just a month and a half, these games will become wins and losses.


July 20 – August 4 – Arbitration Hearings


Any restricted free agent or team who filed for arbitration will have the hearing during these dates. Both the team and player submit a contract expectation for the upcoming season to an arbitrator, who then decides what the player’s salary will be. The team then has 48 hours to sign the player to a contract with the salary determined by the arbitrator or allow the player to become an unrestricted free agent.


September 6-10 – Traverse City Prospect Tournament


This is when it really starts to feel like hockey season. A staple in hockey for more than 20 years, Minnesota is one of eight organizations that participates in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament. Each organization brings a team of prospects to compete in the round-robin and knockout tournament. Minnesota finished third in the tournament last season, it’s best place since 2010.


Mid-September – Minnesota Wild Training Camp Opens


The 2019-20 season becomes reality when Minnesota opens its training camp in mid-September. Players will vie for their roster spot and both Minnesota and Iowa’s rosters will take shape. Hockey will be officially back.



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