And, just to make sure I get this out there, he deserves it. And I, as a fan, needed Fletch to get this deal done.
I think Mikko's a very good hockey player. I think he's in the 2nd tier of top centers in the league. Even the upper echelons of that 2nd tier. He's strong in all three zones, improving on the dots and his compete is out of this world. That's what you want in a captain, top TOI, "on for a draw in the last seconds protecting a lead," "on for a draw in the last seconds needing a goal," kind of guy.
And, make no mistake about it, he IS that guy on the Wild.
But - all else being equal - would he be that guy in Anaheim? Vancouver? Chicago? Detroit?
Look, I realize this is academic, but I try real hard to not get all fanboy about the Wild or its players/personnel (so, in other words, academic is what I do here.) But there's no way Mikko's worth as much to the Ducks, Canucks, Hawks or Wings as Getzlaf, Henrik, Toews and Datsyuk are, respectively. His 2nd tier top center status means he's a 2nd line center on those squads. You don't pay 2nd line centers 1st tier center money. And the 2011-12 cap hits for those guys are $5.325M, $6.1M, $6.3M and $6.7M, respectively.
Again, doesn't mean he didn't "deserve" the contract he just got. He did. And it also doesn't mean he wouldn't have gotten the same (or more?) on the open market as a UFA next summer. He might have. But, don't forget, you generally pay a premium for players in the UFA market (see: Johnsson, Kim, Wild fans. Or Boogaard, Derek....wait, that was just typical Ranger largesse, my bad.) However, since the Wild needs Mikko more than Mikko needs the Wild, that forces Fletch's hand into paying "market price" for Mikko.
I'm not saying Mikko should have given the Wild a "hometown" discount. Not at all. Like I said, I think Mikko got what he deserved. I guess what I'm saying is what he deserved in Minnesota ended up being arguably more than he would have deserved from another team. Again, the math being that, with the UFA premium, if he got $6.75M in Minny he would have gotten MORE than that on the open market. So, if the theory is he was worth $6.75M on the open market, then, backing out the UFA premium, he's got to be worth less in Minnesota.
So, tautologically, we're back to Mikko being worth more to the Wild than, arguably, any other team in the league right now, today. And, from Mikko's perspective, that's called leverage. And, from Mikko's agent's perspective, that means Mikko getting paid more than he's arguably worth. And that's Mikko's agent's job. And it's Chuck Fletcher's prerogative (and Craig Leipold's money.)
And I'm still not saying the Wild got a raw deal, or Chuck got bent over or anything like that.
And here's why: because Fletch obviously convinced Mikko that the future for the Wild was better than 13th-place overall. That, if nothing else, is what makes me happy and hopeful as a Wild fan.