Season in Review: Niklas Backstrom

Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others. 

-Sigh-

So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:

Niklas Backstrom, G, Age 36

Remaining contract (per capgeek): 3.41 million through 2016-17

Statistically Speaking:

Games: 21

Record: 5-11-2

GAA: 3.02

Save Pct: .899

Shutouts: 0

What Did He Do?: Got hurt, played hurt, stayed hurt; however you want to say it. Backstrom seems a mystery. It’s possible that he was ready to go this season after pulling out of the lineup just prior to game one of the 2013 first round series with Chicago, but part of me wonders if he never got back to full fitness, and pushed himself to justify the fact that he was re-signed before the season to what I would have to call an “unpopular” new contract (based on fan opinion).

And that, of course, is good news. If you are a Wild fan, you should pray that Backstrom was never at his best this season, because if we just saw his best, then the Wild are saddled with $3.4 million worth of goaltender I wouldn’t dare start in another NHL game…for another two seasons.  Still, the best-case scenario (assuming no trades happen) is that both Backstrom and Harding can come back for a healthy full season next year, and the Backstrom can be used as a backup. That’s a lot of huge ifs. Chuck Fletcher has told us to “stay tuned” on the goaltending situation, and given trader Chuck’s burgeoning reputation as a creative re-shaper of a roster, we have no reason to believe something won’t happen to clarify the mess in the crease. Whether it has anything to do with Backstrom is another matter.

What to Expect if You’re Expecting:  Not much. Expect Backstrom to be part of the opening night roster in some capacity next October. Just hope he’s able to give the Wild anything at all and build from there. The amazing thing is, no matter what you thought of Backstrom in his prime, vis-a-vis an elite goalie, etc. he was at least both consistent and reliable. How quickly reputations can change

Trade Prospects?:  Someone would have to be pretty damn desperate. Who would take a chance on a 36-year old who is coming off of two abdominal surgeries and one hip operation in 12 months? Garth Snow might, but he locked down his crease a few days ago. Furthermore, Backstrom has a modified no-movement clause, so there is a good bet he would have to ok any deal.

Season Highlight: This was seriously the only video I could find from this season involving Backstrom that wasn’t Nazem Kadri running him over and knocking him from a game in Toronto. It’s a good save, but even in robbing Jonathan Toews here, he looks more like an old man falling over in the right place than an athlete:

 

Another video side note. I don’t follow MMA, mostly because it leads you to hanging out with dudes who wear affliction t-shirts and say “bro” way too much and too seriously, but apparently there is an up-and-coming fighter also christened Niklas Backstrom. I did not know this, so for a split second I was very confused, especially given Backstrom’s health issues. Here’s the “other” Niklas Backstrom being interviewed (and we’re not even counting the Captials’ Niklas Backstrom):

 

He seems…definately not crazy. Anyway, get healthy, Niklas, or I’m sending this guy after you.

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