Minnesota Wild Goalie Niklas Backstrom Had Elbow Surgery Following Season


The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Mike Russo broke news that Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom underwent surgery on his elbow following the playoffs. Russo noted that the Wild can’t buyout a player’s contract unless that player has been deemed fit to play by a doctor (remember Dany Heatley was not eligible to be bought out after the 2012-13 season due to shoulder surgery). The first buyout window, which is where would have been most plausible for the Wild to buyout the 37-year-old Backstrom (see Russo’s Q&A linked above for why), closes in late June. It is highly unlikely Backstrom would be given the OK to play that soon after surgery.

So it looks like a buyout is not in the cards for Backstrom. Even if he was bought out, the Wild wouldn’t save cap space since Backstrom signed his three-year, $10.25-million deal after turning 35. Now the most likely option to free up roster space would be trading Backstrom, while eating a large chunk of his salary. If the Wild are unable to move Backstrom (or buy him out), and are successful in either re-signing Vezina-trophy finalist Devan Dubnyk or acquiring another starting goalie, they would be stuck with three netminders – which definitely isn’t ideal.

It’s looking to be a busy summer for Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, despite the improbability Minnesota makes a splash in the free agent market. Jon Nomland wrote about the idea of Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon getting traded, and about how former Minnesota Golden Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly could be a good fit for the Wild, as he is forgoing his senior year with the university, and expected to sign with an NHL club.