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Barring last minute deal, Haula and Wild are heading for arbitration

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With just a few hours before Friday morning's hearing, it appears the Minnesota Wild and restricted free-agent Erik Haula are headed to arbitration.

The two sides have been at an impasse on contract talks all offseason.

The Star Tribune's Michael Russo reports there is about a $420,000 gap between what the Wild is proposing to pay Haula and what the forward is asking for.

The Wild is reportedly offering Haula $775,000 for next season, while he is seeking $1.2 million. Pro Hockey Talk notes the Wild's offer would actually represent a pay cut for Haula, who had a $900,000 cap hit on his last deal.

But the former Gophers' production also disappointed last season. He posted just 14 points in 72 regular-season games and was scratched from the lineup for eight of Minnesota's 10 playoff games. That was after Haula burst onto the scene with seven points in 13 playoff games during the 2013-14 post season.

However, Haula is regarded as one of the team's best penalty killers and Minnesota had the NHL's top penalty kill unit last season.

According to the Pioneer Press, if the sides fail to reach agreement before tomorrow's hearing the arbitrator will make a ruling within 48 hours, but the sides can continue negotiating.

Once the ruling is announced, the Wild would have to either accept it or reject it – making Haula an unrestricted free agent.

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