Coming off of an incredible summer in which they signed the two top free agents on the market, this offseason will focus more on the goaltending end of things for the Minnesota Wild, at least at first. With a deep system and a free agent starter, their situation is an intriguing one.
Starter Niklas Backstrom is a free agent. However, he’s also getting up there in age, as he’ll turn 36 at some point next season. He’s coming off something of an up and down season, with his final numbers on the year not looking all that impressive. Still, though, it’s hard not to imagine the Wild having slightly better fortunes in the postseason with him healthy.
The situation for the Wild is as follows. They have Backstrom set to become a free agent. They have Josh Harding and a completely uncertain health future, though he looked great in the postseason. And they have youngster Darcy Kuemper, who has loads of potential.
Do you try and sign Backstrom on a one or two-year deal, have Harding back him up, and give Kuemper another year in the AHL to completely develop before he comes up full time? That appears the road that the Wild will try and take first, as they are hoping to get a deal done with Backstrom.
Backstrom is coming off of a deal with a $6 million cap hit. Given his age, and the fact that he had one of the poorer years, statistically, of his career, you’d have to imagine he’ll see a pretty sizable pay cut from that. The Wild are making it clear, though, that a new deal for Backstrom is a priority.
They see him as a key piece of the club in 2013-14. And Backstrom wants to come back, as he feels comfortable with the only club he’s ever played for. It makes sense for both sides. Will it be on a one-year contract, or will they give him a couple of years? Will it be for a cap hit under $5 million?
These are things to keep an eye on. If he hits the market, there will be interest in Backstrom in free agency. But the Wild are planning, at least right now, to not let it reach that point.