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Wild say ‘everything’s a go’ with goalies Backstrom, Harding

Aug 15, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom

Yesterday, Brough wrote about the state of Minnesota’s goaltending and how it will rely on the trio of Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper for next season.

On Thursday, GM Chuck Fletcher shared some good news about the two veterans of the group.

From the Minnesota Star-Tribune:

“Everything’s a go with both goalies,” Fletcher said of Backstrom and Harding. “Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, knock on wood, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season is feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we’re not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals.

“Now’s the time of the year, with about a month to go, you want to reach out and make sure there’s no issues you don’t know about so if there is something you have time to help the process. With Josh and Nik, you’re just trying to reach out and see how they’re doing. They’re both doing really well.”

Harding, 30, was brilliant through the first three months of last season and a legit Vezina candidate (not to mention the Wild’s MVP). But complications from multiple sclerosis forced him from the net in late December, and he didn’t play at all in 2014.

Backstrom, 36, was below average in just 21 appearances last season and finished with a .899 save percentage. The veteran Finn has had injury problems and underwent season-ending core muscle surgery in March.

The timing of Fletcher’s comments about the health Backstrom and Harding are interesting, though. The Wild are currently at a contract standstill with Kuemper, who’s an RFA and appears to be angling for a certain type of deal — one Fletcher suggested he’s not ready to put on the table.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” Fletcher told the Star-Tribune earlier this month. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”

Fletcher said he hasn’t spoken to Kuemper’s camp recently, and one wonders if declaring Backstrom and Harding fit isn’t strategic with regards to the Kuemper negotiations.

  1. hockey412 - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Kuemper seems a little ahead of himself. Hopefully he’ll be able to “come to terms” shortly.

  2. guitarhunterdude - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    I think “anything goes” would be a more apt description.

  3. jacketsfan7 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Blake bortles…wait I didn’t change anything to that, give me a second

  4. slickvb82 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    How great of a story would this be “Josh Harding leads the MN Wild to their first Stanley Cup” :)

    GO WILD!

  5. purpleguy - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    I’m bored and miss Minnesota Wild Day. No one gives a rip about Tampa Bay Lightening Day.

  6. bluesdroogie - Aug 16, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    I had no idea backstrom was 36. Hope the best for Harding, he was doing great until he had to step away. Hope the best for both parts of his life. The central is going to be very tough this year as all teams stepped it up with the exception of Winnipeg. Cant wait for the season to start.

  7. guitarhunterdude - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Theodore Bridgewater.

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