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Wild GM says goaltending is ‘No. 1 priority’

Jun 7, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild Getty Images

For the Minnesota Wild, goaltending is the “No. 1 priority to address” this summer, general manager Chuck Fletcher told ESPN’s Craig Custance recently.

It’s not hard to see why. Niklas Backstrom is a 35-year-old pending unrestricted free agent that just had sports-hernia surgery. Josh Harding, 28, has two years left on his deal; however, he’s yet to prove he can be a full-time starter in the NHL, and his MS can’t be ignored either, as unfortunate as that may be. Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson are two young prospects, but for now that’s all they are.

Custance reports that “serious contract talks” have yet to start between Backstrom and the Wild.

“Right now, we’re just waiting for Minnesota to finish their meetings and go from there,” Backstrom’s agent, Jeff Kowall, told ESPN. “Our first step is to see what Minnesota’s plans are, and hopefully there’s something to be worked out.”

The Wild could also go the trade or free-agent route to find a new starter, though with the salary cap falling from $70.2 million or $64.3 million, they may have to look in the bargain bin. That, or first shed a hit like Dany Heatley‘s $7.5 million, whether via trade or buyout.


  1. 19to77 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Halak’s up for grabs, it seems, and the Blues have said they want to trade for scoring. Heatley wouldn’t work – too much money, too little production – but there’s probably some pieces the Wild could use for a deal there. Can’t imagine Bernier will be moved cheaply, Luongo has the contract-that-will-not-die and Mike Smith’s looking for more than he’s worth, so Halak might be the best bang for their buck.

  2. ray2013 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    If I remember anything from the last off-season, it’s that Minnesota has the best group of prospects in the entire world . If that’s still the case, then why can’t they move one or two of them for a decent goalie?

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      They are ranked number 1 by most publications…

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        Hockey’s Future has them ranked 4th now, still great but not first, they’ll also drop more once Brodin, Coyle, Granlund, Zucker and Dumba are considered “graduated” to the NHL….although that’s really semantics since those players will be on the Wild roster and be more beneficial for them there than as prospects.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 8, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        Right, Brodin is already a top defenseman, and was snubbed on the Calder. Coyle and Zucker made good strides this year Granlund, I’m not worrying about yet. His numbers are eerily similar to Mikko Koivu’s first season in North America. Dumba will only help boost the defenseman.

        Still, the Wild are considered towards the top of the NHL in prospects. I’m not sure how trading Hackett and Larsson couldn’t have hurt their ranking.

      • ray2013 - Jun 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Then they have assets that people would be interested in, and I would assume sufficient depth to trade away a few prospects for a solid starter. No?

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        I believe their first choice is to resign Backstrom, at a deal that should be somewhat team friendly, since he’s long in the tooth, starting to break down, and won’t be getting the $6 he was making the past few seasons.

        If they can’t reach a deal, I’d like to see if they can sign Nabokov, otherwise your looking at the Chris Mason’s Thomas Vokoun, and Ray Emery types.

        Then there are also the 2 buyout clauses each team has.

        If you want to dig deep, I’d bet Puttsburgh would get arid of Marc-Andre Fleury and his $5 million a season, Vancouver has the Luongo mess, now that they aren’t in the same division as the Wild, that door could open.

        There are a few options

  3. canucks30 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Sounds like it’s Luongo time for the Wild

  4. 950003cups - Jun 7, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    goaltending is the “No. 1 priority to address” this summer,

    Duh! Ya think? There are tons of great goaltenders out there he could overpay for. He could take an already overpaid goaltender in Luongo or Bryzgalov. Or he can go out and sign DiPietro. I hear he’s running low on funds these days. He could use another sugar daddy.

  5. mnwildfan15 - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Great moves getting rid of Khudobin and Hackett. Fletcher is a joke he didn’t get Sutter and Parise, Leopold’s wife’s money did.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:29 PM


      Khudobin isn’t even a starter in the league, let alone barely a backup in the league. The only reason he’s on an NHL roster is because Tim Thomas up and “retired”

      In case you weren’t paying attention, Hackett wasn’t even the number 1 goalie in Houston. It was Kuemper who out played him all season long. Gustafsson is supposedly the real deal as well. In order to get Pominville and have Buffalo take on part of his contract you had to give something up. Not like Pominville was a 1 month rental either.

      Besides, it wasn’t Fletcher who pulled off the Pominville trade. It was Leipold, reportedly

  6. travishenryskid - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Brodin, Coyle, Zucker are part of the team now. They traded Larsson, Hackett, a 1st rounder and 2nd rounder for Pominville. That leaves them with Granlund and Dumba as desirable prospects. If they trade those guys, the cupboard is pretty bare.

  7. trezz8 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    What are they waiting for. If Kuemper is so good get his butt out there……….Why wait.

  8. trezz8 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    The Wild need scoring why get rid of Heatley? If Kuemper is the future get him out there. Goalies stop the puck, what more can you teach the guy, if he doesnt know his angles by now he never will.

  9. vstar1us - Jun 8, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    If Wild are cash poor, ask the big two to give the some money back! That is why there is aways a ( I ) in team. I got my money and I got my deal even if we just make the playoffs I still look good. Minnesota calls themselves the State of Hockey ok well show it Praise and Sutter give up some cash so the ( I ) in team can win.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 8, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Yeah, wait until they add Vanek next off season

    • trezz8 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      I think Suter earned his keep and was worth the cash. I get a kick out of how the press is now reporting Parise is more of a # 2 or 3 guy on a contending team, when last year they were reporting how they needed to sign him so he could take them to a championship………….

  10. vstar1us - Jun 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Kuemper, may be a diamond in the ruff, the Wild only put him in when crap was going bad! Work him and give him a try, sell off Backs, and trade off the #2 goalie and shop for a sleeper!

    Sturdy up the defense and give the goalie a chance for a win!
    Can’t score only 1 to 2 points a game, because right now they can’t hold a team under 2 or 3 points.
    Bruins proved it, defense wins game, but you also got to put the puck in the net

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