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The Wild are ‘definitely comfortable’ with their goaltending situation, but should they be?

Aug 13, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT

backstromhardinggety Getty Images

Five goalies started games for the Minnesota Wild in 2013-14. Only one of them, Ilya Bryzgalov, is no longer with the organization. And as it stands, there’s no clear consensus on who will be the No. 1 in 2014-15.

The top three candidates?

Josh Harding: Was excellent through December until complications from multiple sclerosis forced him from the net.

Niklas Backstrom: Struggled in 21 appearances, finishing with an .899 save percentage. Now 36 years old, he’s had trouble staying healthy. In March, he had season-ending core muscle surgery.

Darcy Kuemper: Played well (12-8-4, .915 SV%) last season, but the 24-year-old still lacks NHL experience, with only 28 career starts on his résumé. (Also a restricted free agent and still needs to be signed.)

Add minor-leaguer John Curry and prospect Johan Gustafsson to the mix and, not surprisingly, Wild coach Mike Yeo is “expecting some good competition in camp.”

The question is, can one of the above candidates give Minnesota good enough goaltending to make a deep run in the playoffs? Because, make no mistake, a deep run is the goal now for a Wild team that made it to the second round this past spring, then added Thomas Vanek in free agency.

“We’re definitely comfortable. When healthy, our guys have performed well,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said of his goaltending situation, per the StarTribune.

“We’re fortunate we have three NHL-capable goaltenders that are able to play. We really only need one of them to be healthy, I guess, would be the cynical way of looking at it. We’re going to go with what we have. Right now there’s no reason to think that any one of them won’t be ready for training camp. Backstrom feels good and Harding feels good and we’ll see how things play out come camp. You always have the ability to make adjustments in the season if necessary.”

  1. withseidelinn - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Three big question marks? I think that’s anything but comfortable. Like the article says they are all capable, but can any of them stay healthy?

    • doubles22 - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      If you have three goalies, you have no goalies.

  2. billiam55 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    with bryz out i think id be comfortable to.

  3. leepetertk - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Very unfortunate that Joshn Harding’s season got derailed last year. He was playing so well he was getting consideration for Canada’s #3 goalie.

    I thought Backstrom had a pretty miserable season. He was outplayed in the first half of the season by Harding. When Harding was out, Backstrom struggled, then injured, and struggled some more. Concussion he got in the game vs. the Leafs (from Nazem Kadri contact I think) did not help.

    It is actually amazing that Bryzgalov was their series winning goaltender and played important minutes against the Blackhawks… And then not retained due to a crowded crease. MIN looks like they are going to go with quantity at goal and see who gets on a roll.

  4. purpleguy - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Definitely shouldn’t be comfortable, particularly since it’s looking more and more like there will be a Kuemper holdout.

    • leepetertk - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Does Kuemper have any leverage? He is the obvious AHL goalie since the others have good money NHL contracts. MIN will go with Harding and Backstrom if he holds out. RFAs have no leverage these days.

      • purpleguy - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:58 PM

        For some reason he has a very hardcore agent, that has been pretty tough with other player deals too. Russo also said that Nino’s agent is tough too, but that Fletch at least has been talking on that contract.

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      I dont understand why Kuemper is doing this, as he really has not proven himself for a full year and he should understand that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and like Fletcher said, they had a very difficult signing him to entry level…. I just dont get where this kid is coming from…. be happy,take what you can get, prove yourself, and then ask for the big bucks, it takes time to be a very good goalie……
      He could be playing for years like Broduer and getting the big bucks, it will come,
      Rome was not built in a day

  5. nicofthenorthstar - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Fletcher and the wild have generally done a very good job finding, developing, and signing talent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the previous management, and the wild at STILL dealing with the fallout.
    Backstrom’s absurd contract has been weighing this club down for years. I look forward to the day he is off their payroll.

    • therealjr - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:09 PM

      He was a week away from being off the payroll and then Fletcher gave him another contract. You should know this.

    • chief361 - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      that would’ve been last off-season when the current management group re-signed him as a UFA to his current three year deal which is creating the logjam in nets. granted, fletcher re-signed him to approximately half of his previous cap hit and term, most wild fans were surprised we didn’t move on.

      though, mind you, the re-signing occurred after backstrom put up a decent performance in his contract year throughout the lockout shortened season, it’s looking pretty bad right now. the signing, at the time, was necessary as they supposedly whiffed on trading for bernier, were reportedly interested in fleury (which obviously didn’t happen) and missed out on raanta who signed in chicago that summer.

  6. therealjr - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    No, they shouldn’t be. Too bad because for the $6M plus they are paying three goalies they could have had somebody pretty good back there.

  7. guitarhunterdude - Aug 13, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    I still want them to find a way to dump Backs’ contract (retaining 50% or whatever) and get Reimer.

    Not gonna happen, but a guy can dream.

  8. jsally430 - Aug 13, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Nicofthenorthstar. Backstroms contract from the previous regime ended last year. Your king fletcher resigned him to a two year deal last year. Check your facts

    • chief361 - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:49 PM

      three year deal. check your facts.

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