Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/07/13 at 11:25 AM ET
from Craig Custance of ESPN (paid subscription),
Starting netminder Backstrom earned $6 million last season and led the league with 24 wins. His save percentage dropped to .909 but he has a career save percentage of .917. Serious contract talks haven't started yet.
"Right now, we're just waiting for Minnesota to finish their meetings and go from there," Backstrom's agent Jeff Kowall said on Thursday. "Our first step is to see what Minnesota's plans are and hopefully there's something to be worked out."
It's an interesting time to have flexibility in goal if a deal can't be worked out with Backstrom. If Minnesota prefers to go short-term with a veteran until Kuemper proves he's ready, guys like Nikolai Khabibulin and Evgeni Nabokov should be available. If you want to spend more money, Mike Smith could hit the market if he's not comfortable with the ownership situation in Phoenix. Chicago probably won't be able to keep Ray Emery, who lost all of one game this season in 19 starts with the Blackhawks, going 17-1-0 with a .922 save percentage.
And then there's the trade market. Roberto Luongo will be traded, although that contract doesn't appear to be a fit with the Wild. But Ryan Miller's term is much more reasonable and may make him the most attractive goalie available this summer. And Fletcher knows Marc-Andre Fleury well from his time in Pittsburgh. Considering the Penguins decision to ride Tomas Vokoun in these playoffs, the possibility of a Fleury trade looks more and more likely this summer.
"[Backstrom's] our No. 1 goalie. We'll just have to see," Fletcher said. "There's a whole host of factors involved there ... Goaltending is our No. 1 priority to address."
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