Deciphering and maneuvering around the salary cap in the NFL is a process so fraught with intricacy that we have labeled — for good reason — Rob Brzezinski an expert in the field and an irreplaceable part of what the Vikings do.
And as complicated as the NFL's cap rules are, the NBA might require even more expertise.
The NHL's rules, by contrast, are rather simple: Either you have enough money or you don't.
The cap is "hard," but the math is easy.
For the Wild entering this offseason, the reality is this: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, whose buyouts cost a combined $4.7 million last season, will count $12.7 million next year and $14.7 million each of the two years after that.
The salary cap is going up just $1 million next year. So as I talked about on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast, that leaves the Wild with $7 million less to spend on players than it had this season — when it had its best team in franchise history but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The toughest decision on how to make the money work is also the simplest one: Let Kevin Fiala leave.
Fiala signed a one-year, $5.1 million deal last year. As much as that has been framed as the Wild wanting Fiala to prove himself, the reality is probably more in line with this: The Wild knew it could afford Fiala for one more year but was also very well aware of the math.
With no other players of significance coming off the books aside from Victor Rask, there needed to be some flexibility in 2022-23.
Fiala delivered a very good season, with 33 goals (third on the team) and 85 points (second on the team). He was a no-show in the playoffs for a second straight year, which didn't help his cause.
But short of something spectacular like a deep playoff run fueled by Fiala, the reality was always going to come down to this: The Wild has $7 million less to spend. Fiala figures to command that much (and maybe a little more) on a multi-year contract.
"We'd love to have Kevin back," Wild GM Bill Guerin said Tuesday. "I don't know if it's going to be possible."
That's the reality of a league with a hard cap: When you have a player who is very good but not irreplaceable like Fiala, those are the ones that have to go.