Minnesota Wild Season Preview; Ranking the Northwest Division Goalies

Joseph GuntherContributor IAugust 20, 2010

DETROIT - MARCH 11:  Goaltender Josh Harding #37 of the Minnesota Wild is set in goal against the Detroit Red Wings during their NHL game on March 11, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The National Hockey League’s Northwest Division has some very good goaltenders.

All five of last season’s opening night starters are returning, but one may not be the starter this season.

The Calgary Flames are led in goal by Miikka Kiprusoff. He is their workhorse netminders that is rarily given a day off.

The Colorado Avalanche signed Craig Anderson to be its No. 1 goalie last summer and it paid off with a playoff bid. The Avs have a decent backup in Peter Budaj.

The Edmonton Oilers fought injuries last season. No. 1 goalie Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a season-ending back injury after 18 games. Jeff Deslauriers took filled in and performed well with little help from the players in front of him. This summer, the Oilers signed Martin Gerber as insurance if Khabibulin is unable to return.

The Minnesota Wild continue to have very goaltending with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. Backstrom and Harding turned in career-worst statistics, but still are among in the top half of the league.

The reigning Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks have Roberto Luongo, the gold-medal winning netminder for Canada at the Olympics. Last season's backup, Andrew Raycroft, was not re-signed to clear a spot for prospect Cory Schneider.