Thursday, January 31, 2013
Minnesota Wild Coach Mike Yeo was pretty quick with the trigger last night in pulling Josh Harding. Harding did not look sharp in allowing the 2nd goal of the 1st period and Yeo made the switch to Nik Backstrom. Backstrom came in, played shutout hockey for 2.5 periods and the Wild came away with 2 points.
But this raises the bigger question: what does the future look like in goal for the team? Backstrom is only signed through this year and Harding has 2 more seasons on his contract. Matthew Hackett is waiting in the wings and looks very promising playing for Houston in the AHL.
Here is what I would do: let Backstrom walk after this season (and hopefully a deep run into the Stanley Cup Playoffs) and install Harding as your Number 1 next season. Bring Hackett up to back up Harding in 2013-14, with the intent of making him your full-time number one down the road. Letting Backstrom go will not be easy; he's been the franchises best goaltender and it is not close, but given his age and expected salary, it is time to pass the torch.
That being said, if Harding's bad game last night is the start of a trend, then the team may have no option but to re-sign Backstrom and do something with Harding. All I know is that Hackett should be on the team starting next season and they definitely won't be keeping 3 goalies on the NHL roster.