Niklas Backstrom

Leipold: Wild ‘not uncomfortable’ with Backstrom as No. 1 goalie


Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold thinks quite highly of goalie Niklas Backstrom.

But as for bringing back the 36-year-old pending UFA?

Well, you be the judge.

In an interview with the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Leipold explained his thoughts on retaining Backstrom, who’s been with the Wild since 2006.

“Last year was not one of his best years and we think we may have overplayed him,” Leipold explained. “But he’s a good goalie. There’s a lot of teams in this league and a lot of teams in these playoffs that would like to have him.

“We know Niklas is available and we know exactly what kind of player he can be and we know what he can do. He keeps himself in incredible shape. We are not uncomfortable with Niklas Backstrom as our No. 1 goalie.”

Okay, so not exactly a ringing endorsement.

But also not writing off Backstrom entirely.

The issue, it would seem, is money. The Finnish netminder has been well compensated over the last four years — $24 million, an annual cap hit of $6 million — and, despite 2013 being “not one of his best years,” Backstrom still tied for the NHL lead in wins, with 24.

While he probably won’t get a $6-million-per-season payday this summer, he could score a nice-sized deal from a team looking for veteran goaltending, a potential No. 1 or someone to platoon in goal.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has some cap issues.

The Wild are roughly $6.7 million under the ceiling with 19 players signed, but still have decisions to make on RFAs Cal Clutterbuck, Justin Falk and Jared Spurgeon, and UFAs Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen.

Further complicating things is the health status of compliance buyout candidate Dany Heatley. His shoulder ailment could prevent Minnesota from buying him out, as injured players are not eligible.

Leipold admitted it’ll be tough for the Wild to do much when free agency opens on July 5.

“The cap situation certainly does limit us,” he explained. “The moves that we made last summer were strategic and long-term. No one can make those kind of splashes unless they just like to make splashes.”

Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

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You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

Sean Couturier
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When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

Joy abounded.

Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.

This own-goal captures the start of Dougie Hamilton’s Flames career

Dougie Hamilton
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Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.

(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)

You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …

… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.

Senators lose Michalek, Zibanejad to injuries vs. Flyers

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It remains to be seen if the Ottawa Senators can avoid losing against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, but either way, it’s been a costly night.

The Senators saw two forwards leave the game with injuries, as Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad were banged up on Tuesday.

Michalek may have gotten hurt blocking a shot while a Radko Gudas hit on Zibanejad left the Senators forward with an upper-body injury.

Gudas may get a call from the league for his infractions.

Update: Michalek’s issue could be significant.

The Flyers ended up beating the Senators 4-2, so a tough night for Ottawa.