Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was in the midst of a Vezina Trophy-quality season when he left the team briefly as he underwent a change in his treatment for multiple sclerosis. Initially he was only going to be out a short time but ended up not returning for the Wild.
His situation combined with injury woes to Niklas Backstrom and then later Darcy Kuemper left the Wild perilously thin in net as Ilya Bryzgalov was the option in the postseason.
But the good news -- nay, the great news -- is that the Wild expect Harding to be ready to go when training camp rolls around in September.
"I think his battles are well chronicled and well known. I think he's feeling well at this point in time," Fletcher said (via NHL.com). "The goal for him is, much like last summer, to build up and get to a point where he'll be able to come into training camp and play well. There's been nothing that I've heard of to lead me to not believe that to be the case."
Not only is it great news that Harding is doing well in his treatment but it's also great for the Wild so they have a better sense of what their situation is in net. They are one of the teams that continually pops up in goaltender speculation given the uncertainty of Harding and Backstrom but knowing Harding will be back and ready to play is comforting.
Still, the Wild need to make sure they have adequate depth in case they have similar health issues again next season because the Wild showed in the playoffs they aren't far from being a true contender. Goaltending could make all the difference.
Harding played in 29 games last season for MInnesota, finishing the season with a .933 save percentage and a 1.65 goals against average, both were good enough for the best marks in the league.