This news came out yesterday, but Minnesota has signed forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard to a five-year contract worth 20.4 million dollars (4.08M/yr). According to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, the first two years of that contract come with a verbal commitment from Doug Risebbrough that Bouchard will not be traded. James Mirtle describes the contract as "reasonable", and that's how it seems to me as well. He also points out that Minnesota is quite close to the salary cap, and have yet to sign Marian Gaborik, who is an unrestricted free agent next season. As he's already recieveing 6.3 million per season, I imagine they won't have too much trouble getting him to sign a relatively long-term contract with a modest pay increase.
Mostly from Behind the Net, here are a few things worth noting about Bouchard:
1) He doesn't have a history of playing against quality players. In 2006-07, he ranked 8th among regular Wild forwards in Quality of Competition and in 2007-08 ranked 10th.
2) In 2006-07, he was reasonably successful as a second-unit powerplay option, while this last season he improved considerably as he ranked second among the forward group in time on ice and recorded 4.79 PTS/60 on a very good powerplay.
3) It's worth noting that Bouchard had the best Corsi number on the team in 2007-08; his opposition didn't manage to generate much againt him, something that's reflected in his 1.82 GAON/60. Some of it is a reflection of playing in such a defensive system, but the other forwards were in the same system and most of them were outshot.
4) In 2006-07, Bouchard put up 1.93 PTS/60, and in 2007-08 he posted 2.05 PTS/60. It's a modest gain, one that will likely continue, and although that isn't a great number against relatively soft opposition, combined with his penchant for keeping the puck in the offensive zone it marks Bouchard as a very decent player.
5) With Mikko Koivu playing great against everybody, Bouchard has carved out a role as a player who thrives against lesser lights, and with that kind of shelter there's no reason to expect him to fall back anytime soon.
All of which is bad news for the Oilers, who will play Minnesota six times this coming season. I'd be very surprised if the Wild don't win the division.