Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher continues to solidify the club’s roster this offseason and the Wild has re-signed a familiar presence in goal. The organization has agreed to terms with netminder Niklas Backstrom on a three-year contract.
"Our first priority was to resign Nik," Fletcher said. "He's been a model of consistency over his career. We found a way to give him some security in terms of a three-year deal and in exchange he was willing to work with us in terms of our cap situation and give us a cap number that is very workable for not just this year, but going forward.
"It's a win-win."
The 35-year-old was a workhorse in net for the Wild in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, appearing in 42 regular season games (41 starts). He went 24-15-3 with a 2.48 goals-against average (GAA), a .909 save percentage (SV%) and posted two shutouts. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound goaltender set a franchise-record with an eight-game winning streak from March 14-30 and was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on March 4 and Second Star of the Week on March 25.
"(Backstrom) earned the trust of his teammates with his professionalism and his work ethic," Fletcher said. "Nobody is more prepared as a goaltender as Nik, I've never seen a goalie practice that hard, you gotta give him a lot of credit."
Unfortunately due to an injury sustained before Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, Backstrom did not appear in any of the team’s playoff games. He underwent successful sports hernia surgery on May 16. Back home in Finland, Backstrom skated for the first time today since undergoing the surgery.
"It felt good," Backstrom said about the hour-long session. "Everything feels good with the lower core."
"At 35 years of age, the way athletes prepare and train theres no reason he can't play even beyond this contract, hopefully this isn't the last contract he signs with us," Fletcher added.
Backstrom is the most successful goaltender in franchise history, owning the team's career win mark with 184 victories. He has spent his entire seven-year career in Minnesota, posting a 184-124-45 record, with a 2.43 GAA, a .917 SV% and 28 shutouts in 369 career games. Since entering the league in 2006-07, Backstrom ranks tied for eighth in shutouts and save percentage, ninth in games played, 10th in wins and 11th in GAA. He was originally signed by the Wild as a free agent on June 1, 2006.
"It isn't a secret how much I've enjoyed playing with the Wild and living in the State of Hockey," Backstrom added.
In 2009, Backstrom was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the National Hockey League’s best goaltender. During that season, he also appeared in the NHL All-Star Game.
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