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Bäckström Elbow Surgery Complicates Wild Situation

Bäckström Elbow Surgery Complicates Wild Situation

With news that 37-year-old Niklas Bäckström underwent surgery on his elbow, the Minnesota Wild may have to totally re-think their plans this offseason.

Niklas Backstrom

Bäckström struggled mightily at times this past season. In 19 games, he posted a 5-7-3 record, with a 3.04 goals against average and .887 save percentage.

“He had a procedure done at the end of the season to clean up a problem that happened earlier in the year,” [General Manager Chuck] Fletcher said. “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.”

If a player is injured and can’t be cleared by team doctors, they cannot be bought out of their contract – which is exactly what was speculated that the Wild would do.

It was reported last season that the team wanted to use a compliance buyout on Bäckström, but hip and abdominal surgeries prevented that from happening.

All players must be bought out before June 30th, and if he had the surgery recently, it is unlikely that Bäckström will be cleared by then.

With contract discussions underway with Devan Dubnyk, it looks like they want to bring him back as the starter and keep the younger Darcy Kuemper as his backup. This news may complicate that negotiation now that the team knows they may not have as much money and cap space to spend next season.

Josh Harding was originally their goaltender of the future, but he missed the entire 2014-2015 season, and is planning on retiring this summer due to complications with Multiple Sclerosis.

The Wild signed Bäckström to a three-year, $10.25 million contract in June 2013. If they are unable to buy him out, they will be on the hook for his entire $3,416,666 cap hit next season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.

2 Comments

  1. Paul Ipolito

    Reason # 15 why future goalies will be the lowest-paid/shortest-term players on their teams.They are officially a “commodity”. They are also now officially “fungible”

  2. Scott

    The Wild were dumb to resign Backstrom to a long deal after he came off a so-so year. I have no sympathy for them.