Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom

Wild say ‘everything’s a go’ with goalies Backstrom, Harding


Yesterday, Brough wrote about the state of Minnesota’s goaltending and how it will rely on the trio of Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper for next season.

On Thursday, GM Chuck Fletcher shared some good news about the two veterans of the group.

From the Minnesota Star-Tribune:

“Everything’s a go with both goalies,” Fletcher said of Backstrom and Harding. “Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, knock on wood, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season is feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we’re not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals.

“Now’s the time of the year, with about a month to go, you want to reach out and make sure there’s no issues you don’t know about so if there is something you have time to help the process. With Josh and Nik, you’re just trying to reach out and see how they’re doing. They’re both doing really well.”

Harding, 30, was brilliant through the first three months of last season and a legit Vezina candidate (not to mention the Wild’s MVP). But complications from multiple sclerosis forced him from the net in late December, and he didn’t play at all in 2014.

Backstrom, 36, was below average in just 21 appearances last season and finished with a .899 save percentage. The veteran Finn has had injury problems and underwent season-ending core muscle surgery in March.

The timing of Fletcher’s comments about the health Backstrom and Harding are interesting, though. The Wild are currently at a contract standstill with Kuemper, who’s an RFA and appears to be angling for a certain type of deal — one Fletcher suggested he’s not ready to put on the table.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” Fletcher told the Star-Tribune earlier this month. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”

Fletcher said he hasn’t spoken to Kuemper’s camp recently, and one wonders if declaring Backstrom and Harding fit isn’t strategic with regards to the Kuemper negotiations.

Video: Flyers raise Ed Snider’s banner to the rafters

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The Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday raised Ed Snider’s banner to the rafters at Wells Fargo Center during a pre-game ceremony prior to their home opener.

The legendary founder and Flyers owner passed away in April at the age of 83.

“It’s a special night for everybody that’s going to be involved in it,” goalie Steve Mason told

“This organization is rich in history, and the Flyers are who they are because of Mr. Snider — and it will be nice to see him get the respect he definitely deserves.”


Video: Philadelphia Flyers pay heartfelt tribute to Ed Snider

Tributes pour in for Snider, ‘the soul and the spirit of the Flyers’

Habs depth d-man Redmond out six weeks with broken foot

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02:  Zach Redmond #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during an NHL preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on October 2, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens have lost depth defenseman Zach Redmond for six weeks with a broken foot.

The Habs announced the injury on Thursday, adding it occurred during a recent practice.

Redmond, 28, signed as a free agent with the Habs this summer, inking a two-year deal. He’s appeared in 114 career NHL games, beginning his career with the Winnipeg Jets as an Atlanta Thrashers draft pick.

He was able to secure a roster spot with the Canadiens to begin this season, but had yet to appear in a game.

Redmond has had to overcome adversity in making his NHL dream a reality.

In 2013, he returned to game action on a conditioning stint with the Jets farm team in St. John’s after missing only two months due to a lacerated femoral artery — and the loss of nearly two pints of blood — from a skate cut.

The Jackets have been ‘sitting on 0-2’ all week, can’t wait to play again

Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, center, reacts to a penalty between Boone Jenner, left, and Jared Boll during the second period an NHL hockey game against the  Winnipeg Jets  in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Winnipeg won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets probably didn’t need such a long break so early in the season. It’s been five days since they last played, and not surprisingly, they can’t wait to get going tomorrow at home against Chicago.

They can’t wait to get their first win either.

“It’s a big game for us,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the team’s website. “We’ve been sitting on 0-2 for a week here. It sucks. We need to have a good start and feel good about ourselves.”

A win Friday would certainly help. The Jackets kick off a tough, four-game road trip Saturday in Dallas, so the ingredients are already in place for another disastrous start to the schedule. A year ago, they started with eight straight losses, which is why Tortorella is at the helm now.

The Jackets also play Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim, respectively.

Against such tough opposition, they’ll need their goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, to be good. He played well in his last game, stopping 35 of 37 shots in a 3-2 loss to San Jose (the Sharks scored an empty-netter), but that was after he surrendered five goals to Boston in the season-opener.

On that note, it will be interesting to if backup Curtis McElhinney sees any action on the road trip. Tortorella has been known to ride his top players, including his goalie in back-to-backs, so it’s no given that McElhinney will start Saturday against the Stars.

Related: The odds say Torts will be fired first

Don’t assume Fleury will be traded, says Penguins GM

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02:  Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on from the bench in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Just because Matt Murray signed an extension doesn’t mean Marc-Andre Fleury‘s days in Pittsburgh are numbered.

That was the message today from Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, after Murray re-upped through 2019-20.

“The focus seems to be on what happens with Marc-Andre, but let’s let this play itself out first,” Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “Let’s not just presume that Marc is automatically out. He’s been the franchise goalie here, he is a terrific person, he’s a terrific player and I think that assumption, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.”

This wouldn’t be such a hot topic if there was no expansion draft in June. But there is, and when it takes place, each team will only be allowed protect one goalie. And if the Penguins don’t trade Fleury, they’ll be obligated to protect him, unless he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.

Protecting Fleury would, of course, leave Murray as a prime candidate to be chosen by Las Vegas. Unless, that is, Rutherford could strike a deal with George McPhee to, say, send Vegas a draft pick or player, in return for Vegas not picking Murray. Yes, that kind of deal is allowed.

So it’s complicated.

At this point in time, it’s quite possible that Rutherford doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The season is still young, and it remains to be seen which goalie will emerge as the starter in Pittsburgh. If it’s Murray, Fleury might want to be a starter elsewhere and Rutherford’s decision will be an easy one.

If it’s Fleury, the decision could be tougher. While keeping both goalies would be nice, it would also be expensive. Next season, Fleury and Murray will make a combined cap hit of $9.5 million, and there’s only one net.

Again, though, a decision doesn’t have to be made now.

“Our focus this year is winning,” said Rutherford, “and we’ll deal with the expansion draft at the appropriate time.”