In just our third profile Minnesota Wild A-Z plunges into the B’s. A quick bit of trivia, 25 current and former Minnesota Wild players have a surname starting with the letter B. That’s the most of any letter in the English alphabet. Today we take a look at Minnesota Wild #32, goaltender Niklas Backstrom. That’s Niklas with NO “C”! The one spelled Nicklas is a center for the Washington Capitals and pales in comparison to our Niklas.
Goalie Backstrom is 36 years old, born on February 13th, 1978 in Helsinki, Finland. He stands 6′ 2″ tall and weighs in at about 197 lbs. He’s a left handed catcher, butterfly style goalie. Backstrom was signed by the Wild on June 1, 2006 as a free agent. At that time he was considered by many to be the best goalie in the world not on a NHL roster. He’s been on the Wild roster ever since.
During a NHL career spanning 390 games over 8 seasons with the Minnesota Wild he has won some awards. In 2007 he was given the MBNA Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award. In 2007 he shared the William M. Jennings Trophy with Manny Fernandez. Backstrom also played in a NHL All-Star Game in 2009. In 2010 he represented his home country in the Winter Olympics.
Niklas Backstrom‘s career NHL statistics are as follows. 390 games played, 189 wins to 135 losses, and 28 shutouts. He has a career save % of .916 and an overall goals against average of 2.46.
Niklas Backstrom also holds several Minnesota Wild team records. He has the most games played at 390 along with the most played in a single season at 71. He holds the consecutive games mark at 20 and the consecutive games started mark at 20 as well. Backstrom has the Wild career minutes record at 22,242 mins. along with the single season record at 4088 mins. in the 2008-09 season. He holds the total wins career mark at 189, the season mark at 37, longest win streak at 7 games and longest unbeaten streak at 16 contests. Backstrom also hold 5 team records in the losses categories as well.
Some more Wild team records include, highest career winning % at .584, the most shutouts total at 28 and in a season at 8. His longest shutout streak is 157:44, longest home shutout streak at 142:47, and longest road shutout streak at 164:19. Of course those are all Minnesota Wild team records. he has faced the most shots of any Wild net minder at 10,831 and the most in a season at 2,059. The career saves mark, season saves mark, and most saves in a period are his team records as well. All told Niklas Backstrom holds 27 Minnesota Wild goaltending records. Wow, not bad for an undrafted kid out of Finland.
Niklas Backstrom’s road to the NHL started with the HIFK Helsinki U18 team in 1995 at the age of 15. Backstrom would go on to play for HIFK Helsinki Jr. team in 1996 through the end of 1999. During that span he also played a handful of games for the regular HIFK Helsinki team. At the age of 20 Backstrom joined FPS Forssa Finland-2. In 22 games with Forssa he played 22 games with a record of 13-8-1 with a 2.27 goals against average.
In 2000-01 Backstrom was in net for 49 games with SaiPa Lappeenranta enroute to a 22-24 record with a pair of shutouts and a 2.55 goals against average. The following year Niklas Backstrom left his home country to play in Sweden for AIK Solna. He would spend two seasons there appearing in 49 contests.
The following season in 2001 Backstrom returned to his native Finland and settled in with Karpat Oulu. He would stay with this team through the end of the 2005-06 season. He played 177 games compiling a record of 95-35-29. His final season in Finland was his most impressive with 51 games played and a record of 32-9-10, 10 shutouts and a goals against average of 1.68! It’s no wonder he was catching the eye of teams in the NHL. This would be his last season in Finland.
Niklas Backstrom signed a free agent deal to come play for the Minnesota Wild and was thought to be a depth goaltender. He was expected to compete for the #2 job with Josh Harding. Manny Fernandez was the team’s top net minder at that time. That competition was short lived however as an injury to Josh Harding saw Backstrom take the backup goalie job. That was the opportunity he was looking for and 390 regular season and 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games later here we are.
The last couple of seasons have not been kind to Niklas Backstrom. Injuries have limited his playing time and ended his last two seasons early. In the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013 he suffered an injury in warmups before game one of the Wild vs Blackhawks series ending his season. In the 2013-14 season he only appeared in 21 games due to injury and surgery pulled the plug for good well before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Backstrom is signed with the Wild for through the 2015-16 season. Currently the Wild have three goalies with the NHL team. Backstrom will find himself competing with Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper for the starting job at training camp this September. The possibility does exist that the Minnesota Wild could pick up a goalie in free agency this summer. That would make a murky situation in goal that much murkier.
Next up for Minnesota Wild A-Z is Drew Bagnall, Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros defenseman.