The Minnesota Wild were one of the teams rumored to be finalists for goaltender Jonathan Bernier's services, but in the end they lost out to the Maple Leafs. That had them in need of a goaltender, so they went a familiar way: Their starter from last season.
Niklas Backstrom, who was slated to become a free agent this summer and had an uncertain future at age 35, signed a three-year extension with the Wild. The team announced the news on Monday after Michael Russo of Minneapolis' Star-Tribune reported a deal was nearly done.
According to Russo, the contract is worth $10.25 million or $3.42 million annually.
Backstrom has been with the Wild for his entire NHL career, since the 2006-07 season. His save percentage this past season was .909, his lowest mark in three years and the second-worst mark of his NHL career.
The Wild are going to be cutting it close to the salary cap next season with the cap coming down and them having four high-paid players on the roster in Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Dany Heatley -- who can't be bought out because of his injury -- and Mikko Koivu. Combined, those four players take up almost $30 million in cap space. Getting Backstrom back at a much cheaper price than his $6 million last season is good, but it's also riskier with Backstrom getting older and coming off an injury at the end of the season that kept him out of the playoff series with Chicago.
Minnesota figured to be one team active in the goaltender market this summer, but electing to keep Backstrom fills their need and obviously also keeps Backstrom off the market for other teams looking to find a goaltender.
After starting 42 of 48 games during the season, Backstrom didn't appear in any of the Wild's five playoff games, a casualty of an injury suffereing during warmups for Game 1. He will rejoin Josh Harding in the Wild crease.