Filip Gustavsson was ready to travel to Toronto to have his next contract with the Wild decided by an arbitrator, but the goaltender can unpack.
Gustavsson and the Wild agreed to a three-year contract worth $11.25 million to scrub the hearing scheduled for Friday.
"A little more pressure off my shoulders to know that I have a job for the next three years," Gustavsson said Monday from Sweden before a family barbecue. "I'm so excited to do it with Minnesota again because I was enjoying it so much last year and we had so much fun going around to different cities and playing all the teams and winning a lot of hockey games.
"I'm very excited to do that again."
This deal checks the box on the Wild's most significant offseason business.
Initially acquired last summer in the Cam Talbot trade with Ottawa, Gustavsson arrived on an expiring contract to back up three-time Stanley Cup champion and future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury. But Gustavsson's performance eventually began to blur the hierarchy in net.
Not only did Gustavsson establish a career high in games (39) and starts (37), what with the season his first exclusively in the NHL after previous stints in the minors, but he thrived with more responsibility, responding with the second-best goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.931) in the league.
Overall, Gustavsson went 22-9-7 with three shutouts. His 177-minute, 13-second shutout streak from Feb. 28 to March 12 is the third longest in franchise history.
"What we saw was a guy that has a potential to be a top goalie," said General Manager Bill Guerin, who was with Pittsburgh when the Penguins drafted Gustavsson in the second round in 2016 before trading him to the Senators.
In the playoffs, Gustavsson backstopped the Wild to a double-overtime victory against Dallas that resulted in a franchise-record 51 saves, but the Wild were eliminated in six games; Gustavsson was the starter for five of them, a showing he described as average.
"That's what needs to change," he said. "Now I played my first playoff in the NHL, and I know what to expect. I know the atmosphere. I know the challenge. So, hopefully, by knowing that, I can prepare better for when that time comes again."
Negotiations were off and on throughout the offseason, and Gustavsson filed for salary arbitration in July, which guaranteed a resolution between him and the Wild.
His new deal costs the team $3.75 million in salary cap space each season and includes a limited no-trade clause in the final year that prohibits Gustavsson, 25, from being traded to five teams.
"He's still a young goalie that can improve on what he's done and continue to get better," said Guerin, who called the three-year term a "nice runway" for Gustavsson to prove himself. "As a team, we're more than happy to make this investment in him. It'll just be nice to watch Filip grow over the next few years and see what he can really be."
But this contract didn't anoint Gustavsson the starter.
Instead, Guerin expects Gustavsson to compete for that role. Gustavsson will log more games, Guerin explained, but there isn't a set order between him and Fleury; both will have the opportunity to play.
Fleury, 38, is signed for one more season at $3.5 million and is eight victories away from passing Patrick Roy for the second most in NHL history. The Wild also have prized prospect Jesper Wallstedt in the minors.
"Filip, even though he had some great games, he still hasn't had the workload of a true starter," Guerin said. "But that doesn't mean he can't do it. He just might be ready for that. We just want both of them to come in and ready to just get off to a good start."
As for Gustavsson, he's vying to pick up where he left off and merit more games.
He has on-ice sessions with goaltending coach Frederic Chabot planned for later this month before returning to Minnesota for training camp in September.
"In three years, I hope to be the No. 1 and be really the outspoken No. 1 and play most of the games and sign another deal, a longer deal in the NHL," said Gustavsson, who welcomed a son, Vollrad, earlier this offseason. "This feels like my proving point now that I can keep playing at such a high level for consecutive years in a row."
After re-signing Gustavsson, the Wild have approximately $2.5 million in salary cap space with Brock Faber factored into their roster and around $1.6 million left over with Faber and fellow rookie Marco Rossi on the team.
Guerin said he's comfortable with where the team is at; defenseman Calen Addison is still without a contract, but the team hopes to get a deal done soon.
That signing could put a bow on the Wild's offseason, which has had much more subtraction than addition.
Most of last season's trade pickups are gone, and longtime defenseman Matt Dumba remains a free agent. The Wild traded for three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon and landed Vinni Lettieri and Jake Lucchini on two-way deals.
"I like having the familiarity of bringing back a lot of guys that we've had before," Guerin said. "Obviously, we're going to be missing a few faces from last year. But you gotta move on, and that's OK.
"I'm confident in the team."