Buying out Backstrom could be issue due to goalie's health


There could be a problem for the Minnesota Wild if the team hopes to buy out the final year of goaltender Niklas Backstrom's contract.

According to the Star Tribune, Backstrom underwent a procedure on his elbow following the season and he may not be cleared by doctors before the buyout period ends June 30. The period runs June 15 (or 48 hours after the last game of the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later) through the 30th.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher declined to speculate on whether Backstrom's health would be a factor in any contractual decision.

Buying out Backstrom's final year will only save the club $1.33 million, but the Wild are in a bit of a penny-pinching mode with only about $10 million salary cap space, much of which is expected to go to a new deal for goalie Devan Dubnyk and restricted free agents Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin, according to Michael Russo.

If the Wild can come to terms with Dubnyk, he'll enter the 2015-16 season as the team's No. 1 goaltender. The Pioneer Press speculated in May that 25-year-old Darcy Kuemper would be the backup to Dubnyk, thus leaving Backstrom as the likely odd man out.

Russo also reports that Thomas Vanek had sports hernia surgery last week but is expected to be 100 percent by training camp.

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