For the Minnesota Wild, goaltending is the “No. 1 priority to address” this summer, general manager Chuck Fletcher told ESPN’s Craig Custance recently.
It’s not hard to see why. Niklas Backstrom is a 35-year-old pending unrestricted free agent that just had sports-hernia surgery. Josh Harding, 28, has two years left on his deal; however, he’s yet to prove he can be a full-time starter in the NHL, and his MS can’t be ignored either, as unfortunate as that may be. Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson are two young prospects, but for now that’s all they are.
Custance reports that “serious contract talks” have yet to start between Backstrom and the Wild.
“Right now, we’re just waiting for Minnesota to finish their meetings and go from there,” Backstrom’s agent, Jeff Kowall, told ESPN. “Our first step is to see what Minnesota’s plans are, and hopefully there’s something to be worked out.”
The Wild could also go the trade or free-agent route to find a new starter, though with the salary cap falling from $70.2 million or $64.3 million, they may have to look in the bargain bin. That, or first shed a hit like Dany Heatley’s $7.5 million, whether via trade or buyout.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.