If your team needs to find a new starting goalie this offseason it's probably going to have to trade for one becaue the free agent options are quickly disappearing.
Harding, 28, was eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. After Tomas Vokoun was acquired by Pittsburgh (and signed to a two-year deal) Harding was going to be the top option on the free agent market at the position.
“I love being here, I love the city, I love the fans,” said Harding in a team released statement. “It was really important for me to stay here and work towards my goal (of being a starting goaltender in the NHL).
“I like the way the organization is heading and I want to be a part of it. We're maturing, we're still young and have a lot of talent. I'm ready to get back at it.”
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Originally drafted in the second round (38th overall) of the 2002 draft (which we revisited on Monday), Harding has spent his entire career with Wild, mostly as a backup and platoon partner with veteran Niklas Backstrom. In 117 career games Harding has posted a 41-51-8 record to go with a .916 save percentage.
News of his re-signing with the Wild shouldn't come as a total shock at this point. Earlier on Tuesday Michael Russo of the Star Tribune ran a story on Harding where he talked about his desire to stay with Wild and hopefully get a new contract worked out soon. It apparently didn't take long for that to happen.
Along with Harding and Backstrom, the Wild also have talented youngster Matt Hackett, a 21-year-old netminder that appeared in 12 games this past season and recorded a .922 save percentage.
So now that Harding is off the market the remainder of the free agent class for goalies is down to Martin Brodeur (we're assuming he's staying with the Devils), Scott Clemmensen, Jonas Gustavsson, Johan Hedberg, Chris Mason and Martin Biron.
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