The Minnesota Wild are close to signing veteran goalie Niklas Backstrom to a contract extension, according to the StarTribune’s Michael Russo.
Update: it’s a done deal, according to the Wild. Three years. No exact financials yet, but Russo reports it’s for less than $4 million per season.
Update 2: Russo reports the cap hit is $3.42 million.
Backstrom, who’s spent his entire seven-season NHL career with the Wild, went 24-15-3 in 2013 with a .909 save percentage; however, the 35-year-old missed the playoffs with a sports hernia that required surgery and it was speculated the club may bid adieu to the pending unrestricted free agent.
Minnesota was one of the bidders for Jonathan Bernier, and when Bernier went to Toronto, it was reported the Wild were in touch with Pittsburgh about Marc-Andre Fleury.
Backstrom is coming off a four-year, $24 million deal. It’s almost certain his cap hit will fall from that $6 million level.
According to Russo, Backstrom was looking for at least a three-year commitment.
Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.
Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.
Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.
“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.
“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”
The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.
He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.
When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.
And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.
“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.
Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.
But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?
Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”