What to make of the current Wild goaltending situation.
Needless to say, the Minnesota Wild goaltending situation is a mess. Josh Harding has some serious health issues and just fractured his foot. Niklas Backstrom has a large cap hit but is coming off a major injury of his own. Youngster Darcy Kuemper has shown promise but is as of right now remains an unsigned restricted free agent. And then there is Ilya Bryzgalov who will attend training camp on a tryout due to Harding's most recent ailment.
Even with all of the uncertainty, there are still games to be played this year. The Wild have a good team which should help goalies post better numbers. There may be many different faces starting games for the team or one guy may emerge as the go-to goaltender. Let's take a look at all four and determine their cap-league value, both in the short and longer term.
Josh Harding ($1,900,000 / 1 year)
Harding can be outstanding when he does play but over the years has proven to be extremely unreliable. He will probably get into some games this year and play some solid hockey but will probably have a low GP total. At this point he is not worth drafting in a one-year league and with his contract expiring next summer it is very unclear what his future in the NHL will look like.
Niklas Backstrom ($3,416,667 / 2 years)
With Backstrom currently healthy (for now) and under contract, it appears that he is in position to regain some of his past fantasy value. Unfortunately, he also has a band-aid history including only appearing in 21 games last year.
Even with his past history of excellent statistics, Backstrom is a risky goaltender to own this year. In addition to his unreliable health, he is also 36 years old. Therefore, even if he suits up often it is unlikely that he will be a quality fantasy goalie. And with a cap hit north of $3 million he is probably not worth owning unless you are extremely desperate.
Darcy Kuemper (RFA)
Kuemper appears to be the team's goalie of the future and has already shown great signs of being ready for full-time NHL duty. However, remaining unsigned is not helping matters. With so many questions in the Wild crease now is the time for him to step up and become the undisputed starter. Now with Bryzgalov potentially in the mix a slow star could see Kuemper back in the minors for some seasoning.