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Were the Wild wise in keeping Backstrom?

Aug 20, 2013, 9:37 PM EDT

niklasbackstromgetty Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild received an opportunity to make a change in net this summer. Instead, they opted to stick with Niklas Backstrom, signing the 35-year-old to a three-year, $10.25 million deal.

Was it the right move? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.


The biggest problem with signing the Finnish netminder is that he’s 35, so that contract is a lot tougher to move if things go south. There are plenty of faulty goalie contracts in the NHL, yet most of them aren’t locked in to that restriction.

Fair market value

While the 35+ factor is a worry, the changing goalie market makes his $3.42 million cap hit fairly manageable.

His annual average salary falls in line with other netminders like Devan DubnykEvgeni Nabokov, Craig Anderson, Jaroslav Halak and Antti Niemi. Backstrom isn’t a particularly sexy name, yet his contract seems more reasonable when you put into context.

Mixed results

Backstrom’s stock dipped a bit in 2013, even though he won more games in an abbreviated season that he did in 2011-12 and 2010-11.* Really, a bad contract year might just benefit the Wild in the long run.

In the bigger picture, Backstrom has quietly put together the kind of resume that makes him a respectable franchise netminder. While he hasn’t played as many games, his career .917 save percentage edges Ryan Miller‘s, for instance.

Sign of the times

Again, Backstrom is hardly an exciting name, at least right now. It’s feasible that the Wild could have gambled on free agents such as Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov, particularly if the market backed those two risky names into a corner.

Still, they obviously know what they’re getting in Backstrom, and the outlook really isn’t all that bad (even if it’s not exhilarating).

* – Granted, injuries and other factors made it so the 42 games he played barely trailed those campaigns.

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  1. homegrowntalentmn - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    The question that should of been asked is. Why trade for pominville when you could of traded hackett and prospect for jonathan brenier and then you wouldn’t have to sign or give backstrom 3 yrs

    • lbeezyse - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      We don’t need Bernier to block Kuemper & Gustuvson in the future. Next year Backs will split time with either of those two & he will hand the job over in year either of those & ride off into the sunset after that. Gusty is going to be the real deal & is our future in net.

      Back’s has been the most consistent underrated goalie for years. He has always put up solid numbers. I just wish he wasn’t always on the losing end of those flukey goals.

  2. ashtongronholz8 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    I wouldn’t throw my chips in on a young goalie that isn’t proven yet. Backstrom is more stable and reliable at this point. It was a safe move were already banking on our young forwards to freshen up the offense

  3. porkchopexpress1969 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    No not worth it. Horrible management, didn’t need pomenville. Now your stuck with an aging goalie. Also did management throw Backstrom under the bus? Then signed him after Cory schieder went to the Devils?

  4. ashtongronholz8 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    Veteran goalies are a huge asset come playoff time. Tell me you told me so in two years if bernier is a consistent tender I’m still skeptical. The risk didn’t meat the reward considering we are borderline playoff contender this year and 2 years we may be a favorite. By then Kuemper will be plenty seasoned and ready to take over the one spot if need be. It was a smart move you need to look at the larger picture. Wild are renown for being loyal to their players something I respect and want to keep it that way. Backstrom has been good to us over the years, not phenomenal but consistent and above par. Have faith the next decade is looking bright for us wild fans.

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Wild fans may not be crazy about Backstrom, but be thankful they didn’t sign Bryz to replace him, as the article suggests. Backstrom is atleast on par with Nabakov in my mind.

  6. 950003cups - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Who’s the scallywag who deleted my comment? Was it you Jason O’Brian?

    I simply replied with a simple question to counter your article.

    We’re the Raiders wise when they kept JaMarcus Russell? The simple answer was NO!!! The Raiders kept him on too long. As did the Wild.

  7. 950003cups - Aug 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Nope! Wasn’t Jason. I replied to the wrong article. My bad! Sorry Jason.

  8. blomfeld - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:00 AM


    the bottom line friends, is that this is Minnesota Wild Day, Niklas Backstrom is ‘good’ people and the writer of this article (O’Brien) should be ‘neutralized’ post haste ! … in fact, I would submit to you that the writer of this article (O’Brien) is a Luongo lover and thus an ‘agent of greed’ himself … I am an ardent, sexy and values-driven supporter of the glorious LA Kings and yet I’ve no problem by saying that I wish the Wild of Minnesota nothing but the very best … today, tomorrow and forever ! :)

  9. alswingman - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    ^ when will the mentally ill be banned from making comments here?

    They could have done worse than stick with Backstrom though why 3 years? Just give him a 1 year extension to see how much he has left. Unloading Hackett might not have been the wisest move unless they have a deep feeder system. Wild management just did not want to pull the trigger on a trade or FA veteran goaltender but it was not for lack of options.

    To the doubters, Pominville was a good pickup. Where the Wild blew it was trading Clutterbuck. You need a heart and soul guy.

    • lbeezyse - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      I’d take Nino over Clutter any day in that trade! Clutter was a fan favorite, but did very little to actually help the team succeed. Cooke (as much as we all hate him) will fill his role better & contribute on the offensive side. People forget the guy can play hockey instead of pure goonery.

      Fletcher has a track record of bringing in players who played with players that he may be targeting in the future. Pommer was line mates & buddies with who else……Vanek, who is going to be a FA in a year the Wild are going to have a ton of cap space.

      In defense of Pommer, he was just about a point per game player & leading the Wild in points until Brown took his cheap shot on him. Don’t forget the guy can play. Compare that trade with other trades around the deadline & they are not to far off on price paid for a quality top 6 player. Teams just don’t give those type of players away. Hackett didn’t have a future in MN. The Wild brass obviously assessed that Keumper was better for the long haul until Gustuvson is ready. They got rid of those 2’s roadblock for a player who we badly needed. Larsson is the player who I think the Wild will regret ridding of, not Hackett.

  10. diannapp - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:35 AM

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