David Hutchison | Jan 22, 2019 | 0
Niklas Backstrom Signs With Finnish Team HIFK
Pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Niklas Backstrom has signed a one-year deal with Finnish SM-Liiga team HIFK, the club has confirmed.
The 38-year-old made his NHL debut for Minnesota in 2006, setting franchise records in games played, wins and shutouts during his time with the Wild. A serious arm injury sustained during the 2014/15 season saw him fall down the clubs depth chart, leaving him stuck behind Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper for much of last year.
He was eventually traded to Calgary in exchange for winger Dave Jones in late February, making four appearances for the Flames before the end of the regular season.
Backstrom now returns to the club where his pro career began. The Helsinki native spent four years with HIFK before moving to Liiga rivals SaiPa in 2000. He also represented AIK in the Swedish Elite League (now the SHL) and Kärpät before making the move to North America.
The veteran puck stopped also enjoyed international success, picking up a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and a bronze medal in Vancouver four years later.
He also boasts two World Championship medals, bronze in 2008 and silver in 2016, and was a member of the Team Finland roster which won gold at the 1998 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Backstrom had reiterated a desire to continue his playing career next season, despite the unlikelihood of a new NHL deal.
He leaves North America with an NHL career record of 196-144-50, a .914 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average. He was also a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2008/09.