After re-signing with Wild, Niederreiter says best is yet to come
With two early-August salary arbitration hearings looming, it seemed like the Minnesota Wild were aiming to re-sign one known quantity (Nino Niederreiter) and one forward with a bit more mystery (Mikael Granlund).
After all, with three consecutive 20+ goal seasons in mind, the Wild already knew they were getting someone very productive in Niederreiter, who avoided arbitration via a five-year, $26.25 million deal this past weekend.
Then again, Niederreiter is just 24, and he managed such impressive numbers despite averaging just 15 minutes and four seconds of ice time per game in 2016-17. With that in mind, the Swiss scorer is quite reasonable in claiming that he probably hasn’t peaked just yet, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.
“I definitely haven’t had my best season yet,” Niederreiter said. “Even last year, I don’t think everything went perfectly smooth. There’s always been stretches during the season where I don’t find the score sheet, and that’s definitely something which I want to improve. My big goal is to get 30 in this league.”
With the likes of Jason Pominville leaving town and Zach Parise aging rapidly, it really only makes sense for Bruce Boudreau to lean more on younger scorers such as “El Nino.”
Even at his current production level, $5.25M per season isn’t such a bad deal for Niederreiter, yet just about every indication is that he’s ready to seize a serious opportunity.
Boudreau seems to realize this need to elevate Niederreiter, Granlund, and even Marcus Foligno, referring to them as “the glue that’s going to hold us together.” Every indication is that he should stick to a plan of giving more chances to Niederreiter, whose next aim is to generate 30 goals in a single season.