The Ryan Miller Sweepstakes may be over, but the Minnesota Wild’s continued search for a goaltender is far from it.
News appeared to break late last night that New Jersey Devils franchise netminder Martin Brodeur had waived his no-trade clause. Former NHL goaltender and current analyst Kevin Weekes was said to be the source of the news, though few have actually been able to confirm it. There’s no question he’s generated a lot of interest from general managers around the league, but, as of now, there doesn’t appear to be a deal in place. Still, Minnesota and even Chicago have been listed as likely landing spots, and it’s well known that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has inquired about arguably the best goaltender to ever play the game.
Though it appears Brodeur is probably far and away Minnesota’s first choice, that hasn’t stopped the team from also looking at Carolina’s Cam Ward and Buffalo’s recently acquired Jaroslav Halak. In addition, Edmonton has offered Ilya Bryzgalov–a dirt cheap option that would likely cost Minnesota just a mid-round pick for a goaltender with tremendous upside. Other reports suggest Florida’s Tim Thomas could be another possible option.
Regardless of whoever Minnesota acquires, not everyone in the fan base will be happy. A move for a goaltender says nothing about the play of rookie Darcy Kuemper–he’s been an absolute stud since taking over the starting reins in January. What it does say is that the Wild brass just isn’t comfortable with having Niklas Backstrom and his lingering abdominal stiffness as the only other legitimate option should Kuemper go down. That shouldn’t be a difficult concept for anyone in the fan base to understand, especially if they like having Fletcher at the helm. If the playoffs started today, and Kuemper went down with an injury, Backstrom would have to strap on the pads and it probably wouldn’t be pretty.
That said, any move will be the start of a new era for the Minnesota Wild–either the coronation of the “Kuemperor” as the new franchise goaltender with an established backup ready on the bench, or the arrival of a king to mentor the crown prince. Which will it be?