Fletcher avoided two potentially uncomfortable arbitration hearings this week, inking Granlund and Niederreiter to relatively team-friendly contracts. Somewhat critically, neither deal includes a no-trade clause, an issue that has handicapped the Wild in the past.
USA TODAY SportsBrace Hemmelgarn
Mikael Granlund, Wild forward (↑ UP)
A three-year bridge deal feels right for a player who has just one 20-goal season under his belt. Granlund broke out last year, parlaying a 69-point season into $5.75 million per year, but there's reason to be skeptical of his gaudy numbers. Granlund shot 14.7 percent last year -- up from a career shooting percentage of 9.9 -- and while it's sort-of-but-not-really possible that the 25-year-old Finn's shot got dramatically better last summer, that number is likely to come down next season.
USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Nino Niederreiter, Wild forward (↑ UP)
We can revisit these deals in a few years, but locking a 24-year-old with Niederreiter's versatility and scoring touch down for five years at $5.25 million annually is a move that looks good today and should only improve with time. Niederreiter scored 25 goals last year despite playing third-line minutes, and is a virtual lock to score 30 goals if he's used in a top-six role, while his possession numbers are particularly strong.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
Riley Reiff, Vikings tackle (↓ DOWN)
Reiff hasn't practiced since last week, and as of Wednesday afternoon was not participating in practice at training camp. Mike Zimmer says it's a minor injury. Still, that isn't going to stop Vikings fans from picturing a flattened Sam Bradford being carted off the field in Week 3 while Reiff flinches on the sidelines.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
Jose Berrios, Twins pitcher (↑ UP)
Berrios took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and still came away with the loss Tuesday. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks, going seven innings, but was stuck with the loss anyway following a rough night for the Twins' offense. Regardless, it's an encouraging sign for Berrios after he struggled against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
Kyrie Irving-to-Minnesota truthers (↓ DOWN)
Owner Glen Taylor told the Star Tribune's Sid Hartman that the Wolves want to keep Andrew Wiggins around and sign him to a long-term contract. The Wolves have few (if any) assets outside of their core stars (Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler) that could net Irving. Irving is also -- according to a report out of Cleveland -- unwilling to commit long-term to any team that acquires him, adding yet another wrinkle to this already-exhausting saga. Assuming that Irving were to make his way to Minnesota somehow, he and Butler could both hit free agency in 2020, leading to a potentially disastrous situation for the Wolves if things don't work out over the next few years.