Surprisingly today, the Minnesota Wild announced that they have re-signed, free agent to be, Josh Harding to a 3 year deal worth $5.7 million ($1.9 million annual cap hit). The news was rather surprising as Harding was expected to test the free agent market, and see if he could land himself a starting gig, but instead he took the safe route and opted to back up Niklas Backstrom for at least one more year.
Harding has spent the the past 7 seasons in a Wild sweater (6 for those not counting 2010-11 when he missed the entire year with injury), and his contract will make him the longest tenured goalie in team history.
At first, the move struck me as curious. Why pay Harding almost 2 million dollars to back up Backstrom for a year, then see if he can remain the starter once Matt Hackett comes up to replace Backstrom's roster spot?
But, after a few hours to chew on it (and a conversation with Nate from First Round Bust), I figured that the team will rely on Harding to be the #1 starter once Backstrom leaves and it will allow the goalies in the system (Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, and Johan Gustafsson) to develop more before they get tossed between the pipes at Xcel Energy Center.
So all in all, I am on board with this decision, despite Harding's injury history (Lets hope that's gone!). When healthy, he can be a solid #1 goalie.
So for those keeping your offseason to do checklist at home, cross off back up goalie from the list...