Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press
Who Are the Players?
Who aren't the players? The Minnesota Wild have incumbents Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding under contract for 2014-15 and retain the rights to restricted free agent Darcy Kuemper.
Last season, they finished the playoffs with Ilya Bryzgalov in net. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Bryzgalov would like to continue with the Wild.
"Ilya would very much like to return to the Wild and further the success the team had down the stretch last year," his agent, Ritch Winter, said. "It was one of the most satisfying experiences he has had in his career."
What's the Issue?
Right now—roster size. Down the road—chances of injury.
The Wild turned to Kuemper and Bryzgalov last season after Josh Harding's terrific start was derailed at Christmas by complications related to his multiple sclerosis. Backstrom managed just 21 games before his season was ended in March by a strained abdominal muscle that required surgery.
Russo reports that the Wild are "working toward re-signing" Kuemper and that general manager Chuck Fletcher is willing to commit three roster spots to goaltending.
How Will It Shake Out?
Despite Brzygalov's strong showing last season in Minnesota, he'll likely start the season as he did last year—outside the NHL, where he'll still earn $1.6 million as part of his buyout from the Philadelphia Flyers. On paper, it's unlikely the Wild's goaltending situation will be as complex as it was last season, but Harding's disease is unpredictable and 36-year-old Backstrom's body may be breaking down.
Chuck Fletcher is wise to keep Kuemper on call, with Bryz as an ace in the hole—if he doesn't get snapped up by another team.