The Minnesota Wild will be without the services of backup goalie Josh Harding heading into the new NHL season. Harding suffered a fractured foot and will be out indefinitely. Since the injury occurred outside of hockey, Harding has been suspended.
As a result, the organization moved quickly to resign goalie Darcy Kuemper to a new two year contract. Kuemper will earn $1.25m per season under the new deal.
Positives & Negatives
There are positives and negatives to take away from this unfortunate setback. Obviously losing Harding in the early stages of training camp is unfortunate and will force the coaches to re-evaluate the team’s goaltending situation. It’s also a huge blow to morale for Harding as a player, to have to battle back from an injury without pay. Plus, he’ll have to fight really hard to reclaim his position as backup now that Kuemper.
However, this injury did allow the organization to persuade Kuemper to resign with the Wild, instead of possibly losing him to a KHL team. This is a wonderful opportunity for Kuemper to step up and build off last season’s success. This kid exploded on to the scene last year winning his first three games. In his 26 game span with the Wild, he recorded two shutouts and ended with a .915 save percentage. He also recorded his first playoff shutout against the Colorado Avalanche in the team’s playoff campaign last year.
Kuemper is the real deal. He’s quick, covers his angles really well and has proven he can handle high pressure situations. He anticipates plays really well and isn’t afraid to challenge his opponents. I’m happy that he’s decided to stay in the NHL. It won’t take him very long to become a stand out player in the team’s training camp. He’s a valuable asset to the team and I’m sure he’ll be winning a lot more games this year. Veteran goalie Nicklas Backstrom will certainly be able to help this kid improve his game moving forward. Kuemper should get at least 15 starts this season in my opinion.
Well the injury to Harding occurred, I was worried that the Minnesota Wild would break the bank to try and sign free agent goalie Martin Brodeur. Signing Brodeur would’ve made splitting ice between these goalies far too difficult. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened and the organization has opted to give Kuemper another shot.
Kuemper will struggle with consistency and isn’t very good at playing the puck at all. But give him time, and he will emerge as one of the best goalies in the league. This kid’s skill level is similar to Ray Emery when he was in Ottawa and Cory Schneider of the Devils in my opinion. I can’t wait to see how he does this year.