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Minnesota Wild's Jared Spurgeon signing seems trade more likely

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild's signing of Jared Spurgeon to a four-year, $20.75 million contract extension this week gives the team four defensemen locked up through the 2019-20 season, each carrying a cap hit of at least $4 million.Between Spu...

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Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon shoots against Winnipeg Nov. 27 at Xcel Energy Center. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports)

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Wild’s signing of Jared Spurgeon to a four-year, $20.75 million contract extension this week gives the team four defensemen locked up through the 2019-20 season, each carrying a cap hit of at least $4 million.
Between Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin, the Wild have allocated nearly $21 million of their salary cap next season - expected to be between $73 million and $74 million - to four blue liners.
Because of that, and the fact that defenseman Matt Dumba likely will re-sign, the possibility of the Wild trading one of their best five defensemen seems to have increased.
“It may give us the opportunity to look at different options down the road,” general manager Chuck Fletcher acknowledged.
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding whether the Wild might trade a defenseman for a center, perhaps in a deal that would include Columbus center Ryan Johansen, and Fletcher’s comments after re-signing Spurgeon did nothing to dampen that conjecture.
“We have depth on defense … (but) I don’t know that we have as much depth at center,” said Fletcher, adding that, “When you make a trade, you want to trade from depth. So if something comes up down the road, we’re situated really well with the players we have now and the players we have coming.”
However, Fletcher said he’s OK allocating nearly $21 million to four defensemen not including Dumba’s prospective deal.
“We’ve been anticipating these dollars for a while,” he said. “I think this just confirms what we’ve been projecting for the last couple of years. We still have the ability to keep our team intact and continue to look for ways to improve.”
Only two teams in the NHL - Calgary and Montreal - have more than $21 million allocated to defensemen next season, and that’s for all their defensemen, not just their top four.
Still, Fletcher maintained he’s fine giving that kind of money to his top blue liners.
“The defense is the strength of our team,” the GM said. “We have some good kids coming, as well. It gives us depth. … We have a really good group of forwards, don’t get me wrong, but I think our defense corps is the strength of our team, and that’s what separates us from other teams.”
Dumba and Jason Zucker are now the Wild’s two most pressing pending free agents, but new contracts likely aren’t imminent because both sides could benefit by having a better idea of what the players will produce this season.
“If we can get something done, great, but there really is no rush with either player,” Fletcher said. “They’re both young players still trying to establish themselves in the league.”

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