Monday, June 23, 2014

Trade Destinations For Niklas Backstrom

Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today
Today, Mr Russo of the Star Tribune is reporting that the Wild are shopping Niklas Backstrom to various teams. In the story Russo says that the Wild would be willing to retain some of Backstrom's salary to see if they can get a taker.

So lets think on that for a bit. Of the 29 other teams in the league, who would be interested in bringing Backstrom aboard? Lets take a look at the candidates:

While the Stars do have Kari Lehtonen as their number one goalie for the next four years, they have no one to back him up. If Minnesota was willing to eat some of Backstrom's remaining salary ($3.416 cap hit in each of the next two seasons), Dallas could be a buyer for his services.

The Senators come in as a long shot to make a move for Backstrom here. But again, it comes back to how much of his salary is willing to eat. Ottawa has one year left with their number one starter Craig Anderson and he was injured and inconsistent this past season. Behind Anderson and Robin Lehner (a RFA this summer), the Sens have some goalie prospects in their system but none close to being an NHL ready goaltender.

Unless the Caps want to go into next season with Braden Holtby and Phillip Grubauer as their goaltending tandem, they will be trying to find a goaltender. Backstrom presents an interesting case for Washington, as he can be a good option to backup, or potentially start over, Holtby should he struggle or get injured. With Washington having most of their team under contract for next year, they would be more likely to take on a good portion of this contract. But that is if they are looking to deal for him.

If one team needs a goaltending change, its the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec is the worst "starting" goalie in the league right now, and yet, the Jets are going into next year with him still as their number one. The team is without a backup, and their best goaltending prospect is still a few years off. While Backstrom is not the greatest goaltender, he is certainly an upgrade over Pavelec. For the right price, Minnesota could probably get Winnipeg to bite on a deal for Backstrom just so they can have a good option behind Pavelec should (and probably will) he falter.

It is certainly a lot easier said than done to trade Backstrom. He is 36 years old, and for the last three years, has been oft injured. The market for him is thin, and the Wild would have to eat a good chunk of his salary to get a buyer interested.

While Chuck Fletcher may be trying to shop the franchise's all-time best netminder, it remains highly unlikely he finds someone to take a deal for Backstrom. You hope he can just so the goaltending situation becomes less of a headache (the Wild opening night roster projects to have three goalies on it).

Just another thing to think about as we move closer to the draft.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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