The smartest thing the Minnesota Wild did today was sign the two biggest free agents they could, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
The second smartest thing they did was structure the contracts in a way that reduces the cap hit over the first three seasons of the deal. Here's how their identical deals break down, via ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun:
Year 1: $2 million base salary + $10 million signing bonus = $12 million
Year 2: $2 million base salary + $10 million signing bonus = $12 million
Year 3: $6 million base + $5 million signing bonus = $11 million
Years 4-8: $9 million base
Year 9: $8 million base
Year 10: $6 million base
Year 11: $2 million base
Years 12-13: $1 million base
The NHL will be looking to eliminate contracts like these extremely front-loaded 13-year deals when it's time to draw up a new collective bargaining agreement.