Tag: Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Wild’s Backstrom, Vanek undergo surgery


Any plans the Minnesota Wild had to buyout the final year of Niklas Backstrom’s contract have been put in jeopardy.

The goaltender underwent elbow surgery following the season.

“He had a procedure done at the end of the season to clean up a problem that happened earlier in the year,” Chuck Fletcher told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. “I honestly don’t know the full prognosis at this point, but it’s not a long-term thing and we’re hoping that he’ll be good to go in short order and healthy.”

With goaltender Devan Dubnyk likely headed for a new multi-year deal with Minnesota and Darcy Kuemper unable to go to the American Hockey League without clearing waivers, buying out Backstrom seems like a logical move.

Backstrom is owed $3.4 million for the 2015-16 season.

The NHL buyout period begins June 15 or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final (whichever is later) until June 30.

The 37-year-old appeared in 19 games for the Wild during the 2014-15 season posting a 5-7-3 record to go a long with a 3.04 G.A.A. and a .887 save percentage.

Forward Thomas Vanek underwent surgery in Philadelphia last week for a sports hernia. The 31-year-old is expected to require six weeks of recovery time.

“It bothered him for a lot of the second half,” Fletcher said. “We gave it some rest, but it didn’t seem to be getting better, so we opted for the surgical route. We expect him to be 100 percent by training camp.”

Vanek had 21 goals and 51 points in 80 regular season games. He was held to just four assists in 10 playoff games.

Wild reporter pegs Dubnyk deal at ‘well north of $3 million per’


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about free-agent goalie Devan Dubnyk and suggested a contract of three years at $4.5 million per season to re-sign with the Minnesota Wild.

PHT commenters were aghast. Way too high, they said. The media is so dumb. Why is the media so dumb? Is it because they have no brains?

So here’s a second media opinion, courtesy Michael Russo at the StarTribune:

The market for Dubnyk is basically whatever another team will pay him as a free agent (couple that with the fact there’s no obvious answer for the Wild if Dubnyk leaves).

Now, maybe Dubnyk takes less to stay in a place where he was a solid fit, but this was a $3.75 million goalie in Edmonton. For the Wild to sign him, the deal will obviously average well north of $3 million per.

Remember that Dubnyk was the catalyst in the Wild’s turnaround this season. He’s a Vezina Trophy finalist, and he probably got a few Hart Trophy votes too.

Granted, the goalie market isn’t great (for goalies) and Dubnyk wasn’t fantastic in the playoffs. The Wild could play hardball with him if they chose. But what if they ended up losing him? Do they have a fallback plan beyond Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom? Because that’s the tandem that got them in trouble in the first place.

Anyway, I’m still optimistic the two sides will find a way to get something done. He wants to stay. They want to keep him. And usually that’s enough to get pen to paper.

Related: So…what should the Wild do with Dubnyk?

So…what should the Wild do with Dubnyk?


There’s no two ways about it — Devan Dubnyk saved the Minnesota Wild’s season.

Before he joined them in January, they couldn’t get a save and were losing because of it. After he joined them, he was so good the biggest debate was whether he needed a rest. And for that, he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist.

But the Dubnyk magic eventually ran out. The 29-year-old went 4-6 in the playoffs with a .908 save percentage. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

So, what should the Wild do? They still have two goalies — Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper — signed for next season. Kuemper, just 25, could still be a very good NHL netminder. Backstrom, unfortunately, may not even be good enough to back up next season. (And don’t underestimate the importance of the back-up. It can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Just ask a team like the Dallas Stars.)

Chances are, GM Chuck Fletcher will at least attempt to re-sign Dubnyk. The challenge will be to get him under contract for a reasonable cap hit, as well as a term that limits the club’s long-term risk. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about goaltending in 2014-15, it’s that goaltending is extremely unpredictable.

The last thing the Wild will want to do is what the Coyotes did with Mike Smith, which is make a huge commitment to a guy based essentially on one excellent season, only to end up “married” to a guy with some of the worst numbers in the league. (Need we remind you of Dubnyk’s numbers in 2013-14?)

Of course, on the other hand, a team that doesn’t have goaltending is a team that has almost zero chance of consistently winning. (See: the Minnesota Wild, before Dubnyk.) Can the Wild really afford to let a Vezina Trophy finalist walk away?

Hence, the fascinating conundrum for GMs. Goaltending is the one position you absolutely cannot live without. While at the same time, it’s the one position where you can roll the dice on an inexpensive option and have it work out rather nicely for you.

Case in point, Braden Holtby’s cap hit is less than $2 million. He’s been pretty good for the Capitals, no? And let’s not forget about the Ducks, still very much alive in the playoffs, after gambling on two goalies for less than $2 million.

Try rolling the dice on a No. 1 center or d-man for less than $2 million and see how it works out.

Anyway, we don’t envy Fletcher here. He’s got a huge decision to make. And whatever choice he makes is fraught with risk.

Wild goalie Gustafsson joins Swedish League team

Minnesota Wild v Philadelphia Flyers

Johan Gustafsson’s headed home.

Gustafsson, who’s spent the last two years with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa, has reportedly returned to play in his native Sweden with Frolunda, per the club’s Twitter account.

Gustafsson, 23, was the Wild’s sixth-round pick (159th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft but became something of a prized commodity in 2011-12, when he posted great numbers with SHL team Lulea (.929 save percentage, 1.74 GAA, six shutouts) and backstopped the Swedes to gold at the 2012 World Juniors in Alberta.

One year later, Gustafsson was on the roster for Team Sweden as it captured gold at the Worlds.

In North America, though, Gustafsson failed to replicate the same sort of success. He never posted impressive numbers in Iowa — spending a brief time with ECHL Alaska this season — and was stuck behind a logjam of goalies at the NHL level: Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper Josh Harding and, in the latter half of this season, Devan Dubnyk.

Gustafsson, a pending RFA, never appeared in a regular-season game for the Wild but was called up on a few occasions, most notably in the middle of last season when Harding was dealing with complications from multiple sclerosis.

Goalie nods: After 39 straight starts, Dubnyk gets a rest


News and notes from around the crease…

“Duuuuuuubs” takes a break

For the first time since Jan. 15, the Minnesota Wild will start a goalie not named Devan Dubnyk.

Dubnyk, who’s made 39 consecutive starts — one with Arizona, 38 with the Wild — will be dropped from the lineup entirely tonight as Darcy Kuemper will start in goal against Nashville, with Niklas Backstrom backing up.

While kicking back and relaxing, Dubnyk can reflect on what’s been a truly impressive — and borderline unbelievable — bounce-back campaign. He’s 36-13-4 on the year with a 2.04 GAA and .930 save percentage, numbers made even more remarkable given that, last year, he bounced around three different organizations and finished with Montreal’s AHL affiliate in Hamilton.

For the Predators, Pekka Rinne is the likely starter.


Sens at Rangers: Andrew Hammond vs. Henrik Lundqvist

‘Canes at Flyers: Cam Ward vs. Ray Emery

Wings at Habs: Jimmy Howard vs. Carey Price

Devils at Bolts: Keith Kinkaid vs. Ben Bishop

Bruins at Panthers: Tuukka Rask (probable) vs. Roberto Luongo

‘Hawks at Blues: Corey Crawford (probable) vs. Jake Allen

Jets at Avs: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Reto Berra

Kings at Flames: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Jonas Hiller

Sharks at Oilers: Antti Niemi vs. Laurent Brossoit

Coyotes at Canucks: Mike Smith vs. Eddie Lack