The Minnesota Wild made their first postseason dent in five years by taking a game from the eventual championship Chicago Blackhawks in the Wild’s first-round exit. This is none too shabby for a squad on the up-and-up, and Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher hopes to ensure this trajectory by locking down netminder Niklas Backstrom.
ESPN reports that re-signing Backstrom took a $10.25 million deal over three years, with $2.5 million attributed to 2013-2014: “We’re familiar with Nik. He’s familiar with us. He’s earned the trust of his teammates through his professionalism and his work ethic,” Fletcher said, via ESPN. “Nobody’s more prepared as a goaltender than Nik. I’ve never seen a goalie practice that hard, and you’ve got to give him a lot of credit.
“He’s been a model of consistency. He just finds a way to win games year after year. At 35 years of age, I think in today’s day and age the way athletes prepare, the way they train, there’s no reason why he can’t even play beyond this contract. Hopefully, this isn’t the last contract he signs with us.”
In most professional sports leagues, signing any player at an incredibly key position to a three-year extension inspires plenty of anxiety when said player is on the wrong side of 35, though not as much for the goalie position. Also, the way the cap lays out in this deal helps Minnesota in the immediate future.
“Our first priority was to resign [Niklas],” Fletcher told the team website. “… In exchange he was willing to work with us in terms of our cap situation and give us a cap number that is very workable for not just this year, but going forward. Again, I think it’s a win-win.”
It’s also worth it overall for what you can still get from a healthy Backstrom, as he showed in a franchise-record eight-game win streak this season. Unfortunately, a sports hernia felled Backstrom right before the playoffs commenced, and his health will remain some concern going into 2014.