Minnesota Wild v Anaheim Ducks

Wild’s Harding ‘feeling a lot better’ after MS setback

Minnesota backup netminder Josh Harding is showing improvement after a recent setback with Multiple Sclerosis, according to Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.

“[He’s] feeling a lot better,” Fletcher told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “Now it’s a question of getting back to strenuous physical activity, then getting back on the ice and seeing from there.

“Doctors are very confident we’ll get to a spot where he’s going to feel very good most days.”

Harding hasn’t appeared in a game for Minnesota since relieving Niklas Backstrom in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Canucks on Feb. 7.

He was supposed to dress for a game against Vancouver on Feb. 12 but, prior to, informed the club he wasn’t feeling right.

“Just lately been feeling a bit off and we kind of knew this was a possibility,” Harding told NHL.com. “I’m not going to get into too many details about it right now.

“I’m a little off and the decision was made to take this one [game] off and take care of it right now.”

The Wild called up Darcy Kuemper from AHL Houston to play against Vancouver, and proceeded to put Harding on injured reserve.

Harding hasn’t been taken off IR yet, but with Minnesota riding Niklas Backstrom hard in recent weeks — he’s been the goalie of record in 16 of the last 18 games — the team might return Kuemper to Houston and bring up Matt Hackett.

“Darcy’s earned the right to be here and playing very well, but so is Hack and we want to make sure we don’t hurt Darcy’s development [by not playing him],” Fletcher said.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.