Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild

Wild GM says goaltending is ‘No. 1 priority’


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.


Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.