The Wild's opening-night roster is pretty much set. They assigned top prospect Luke Kunin to Iowa and also placed veteran defenseman Ryan Murphy on waivers on Monday, with the intention of sending him to the minors.
Kunin, who is just 19, had a phenomenal training camp and was outplaying fellow prospect Joel Erikkson Ek – who was banged up – but Erikkson Ek ended up making the team.
With Kunin being sent to Iowa, he'll at least play on the team's top line, but probably the biggest reason he was sent down is that the Wild could not afford to keep him.
Virtually no cap space
With Daniel Winik signing a one-year contract worth $600,000 on Oct. 4, Minnesota has a little more than $200K in cap space.
As pointed out by Michael Russo of the Athletic, if the Wild suffer short-term injuries – that doesn't require injured reserve – they won't even have enough cap space to recall some of their best players from Iowa, because most of them make more than $800K.
So the Wild literally cannot afford an injury to start the season.
Fans will be quick to point out that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter's contracts are the biggest reason for being strapped for cash.
However, Suter is probably one of the league's best defenseman and he's worth his cap hit of $7.5 million.
But Parise is battling a back injury and he won't be ready for at least the first two games of the regular season. The hope is, he'll be ready by the team's third game of the year against the Chicago Blackhawks.
If Parise isn't ready he may be placed on long-term injured reserve (also known as LTIR), which would give the Wild some salary cap relief. But that means Parise has to miss 10 games and 24 days.
Which means the Wild would be without one of their best players until sometime in mid-November.
Unless Parise is placed on LTIR, Minnesota has to hope they do not suffer an injury to another player.