Niklas Backstrom

Wild’s Backstrom undergoes successful sports hernia surgery


On Thursday, Minnesota announced that goalie Niklas Backstrom underwent successful sports hernia surgery, and is expected to be recovered for the start of the 2013-14 season.

But will he be back with the Wild?

The 36-year-old is in the final season of a four-year, $24 million deal signed back in 2009. While still highly-effective — he tied for the NHL lead in wins this year, with 24 — it remains to be seen if Minnesota will bring him back.

(In a recent column, Mike Russo of the Star Tribune wondered if Backstrom had played his last game for the Wild.)

Minnesota has Josh Harding under contract ’til 2015 and, after missing a large chunk of the season due to complications with multiple sclerosis, Harding rebounded to play in all five of Minnesota’s opening-round playoff games against Chicago after Backstrom got hurt during warmups prior to Game 1.

(Harding finished with a .911 save percentage and 2.94 GAA, earning a Masterton Trophy nomination earlier this week.)

The Wild also have 22-year-old Darcy Kuemper in the mix.

The 2009 draftee was outstanding for AHL Houston this season (13-8-0, 1.88 GAA, .934 save percentage) and looked good in limited minutes at the NHL level this season.

That said, it’s tough to envision the Wild going with just Harding and Kuemper next season, so Backstrom could be brought back.

The x-factor will be the UFA goalie market — Backstom could be the best guy available depending what happens with Mike Smith in Phoenix and Evgeni Nabokov on Long Island.

Kings’ AHL affiliate gives Emery PTO

Ray Emery
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Ray Emery has agreed to join the Ontario Reign on a professional tryout, according to a team release.

The Reign are the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.

Emery attended Tampa Bay’s training camp on a PTO, but he was released after the team claimed Kevin Poulin on waivers from the Islanders.

The 33-year-old had a 10-11-7 record with a 3.06 goals-against-average and a .894 save percentage in 31 games with the Flyers last season.

Even with starter Jonathan Quick struggling, it’s hard to envision this move leading to a return to the NHL for Emery.

The Kings have Quick and Jhonas Enroth with the big club, while veteran Peter Budaj was signed to a two-way contract on Friday.

Goalie nods: Reimer makes first start of the season

James Reimer
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James Reimer will get his first start of the 2015-16 season on Saturday night against Ottawa.

Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock made it clear from the beginning that Jonathan Bernier was going to start on Wednesday against Montreal and Friday in Detroit, while Reimer would get in against the Sens.

“I’ve known this for a long time that (Bernier is) starting and he’s starting on Wednesday and he’s starting on Friday. Reims is starting on Saturday,” Babcock said before the season began.

Things haven’t gone according to plan for Toronto through two games.

Not only have they lost both contests, but Bernier was pulled in yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Wings, and the team has scored only one goal this season.

Reimer, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in just under 40 minutes of action against Detroit, will go up against Craig Anderson.


Cam Talbot will try to get his first win as an Oiler as they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Pekka Rinne will start for the Predators.

Carey Price and Tuukka Rask will face-off when the Canadiens and Bruins renew hostilities at the TD Garden in Boston.

Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes when the Red Wings take on the ‘Canes in Carolina. Cam Ward gets the nod for the Hurricanes.

Keith Kinkaid for the Devils. Braden Holtby makes his first start of the year in the Capitals’ season opener.

Steve Mason for the Flyers. Roberto Luongo for the Panthers in their opener.

-Columbus hasn’t confirmed who their starter will be in the back half of their home-and-home with the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist will start for New York.

Jake Allen makes his first start of the regular season for St. Louis. Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.

-The Islanders have yet to confirm their starter for tonight’s game in Chicago. Scott Darling for the ‘Hawks after Corey Crawford helped spoil the party in Brooklyn yesterday.

Antti Niemi gets the call for Dallas after he blanked the Penguins in his first start. Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.

Jonas Hiller for Calgary. Ryan Miller for the Canucks.

-The Penguins haven’t confirmed who their starter will be in Arizona tonight. Mike Smith will likely play in back-to-back games after beating the Kings on Friday.

-The Ducks have yet to confirm their starter. Martin Jones will start for San Jose.