Niklas Backstrom’s loss is Pekka Rinne’s gain.
That’s the word from Rinne’s agent, Jay Grossman, who confirmed on Tuesday that Rinne would replace Backstrom as Dinamo Minsk’s import goalie after the Minnesota ‘tender injured his ankle prior to signing.
Back on Sept. 18, Backstrom was reportedly “close” to joining the KHL club but hadn’t put pen to paper because of insurance and visa issues.
That sequence of events opened the door for Rinne to reunite with Finnish goalie guru Ari Hilly, now the goaltending coach in Minsk.
Hilly’s presence is a big reason why Backstrom wanted to join Dinamo — the two worked together for Finnish League outfit Karpat from 2002-06, a stretch that saw Backstrom win two Urpo Ylonen trophies as the league’s top goaltender.
Yesterday, Minsk sports director Igor Matushkin alluded to a “top level” NHL replacement for Backstrom, but did so without naming Rinne as the guy.
Such a big splash from the Belorussian club shouldn’t come as a surprise — Minsk made waves earlier this summer by securing the services of former Jets forward Tim Stapleton. The 30-year-old forward surprised some by jumping to the KHL after an impressive 2011-12 campaign with Winnipeg, one where he posted career highs in goals (11), assists (16) and points (27).
Other noteworthy names on the Minsk roster include Jere Karalahti, Lukas Krajicek and Cory Murphy.