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Under the defensively-oriented system employed by Jacques Lemaire, Niklas Backstrom annually posted impressive statistics that were among the best in the league. Since Lemaire left the Wild, Backstrom's numbers have regressed; he is now statistically closer to the average NHL goaltenders than the elite.
In his three seasons under Lemaire (2006-07 to 2008-2009), Backstrom posted a 93-45-22 record, with a 2.23 GAA, a .923 save percentage and 13 shutouts. Following his 37-win 2008-09 campaign, he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league's best goaltender.
After Lemaire announced his retirement as head coach for the Wild, Todd Richards took the helm and installed a system with a more balanced approach to offense and defense. Without a stingy, trapping system in front of him, Backstrom fell from the ranks of the premier NHL goaltenders.
In the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons under Richards, Backstrom's statistics were those of a mid-range NHL goaltender. He compiled a 48-46-13 record, with a 2.69 GAA, a .909 save percentage and five shutouts.
Backstrom has value, but if he posts average numbers again in 2011-12, the Wild will likely not receive as attractive of a trade proposition as they would at present.