The raw reality of Minnesota Wild hockey at this point in the season is that its goaltending situation is in dire straights.
Darcy Kuemper has been pulled in five of his ten starts since December and Niklas Backstrom, the veteran backup, has been just as shaky in net. Poor play in goal is a big reason why Minnesota sits in 11th place in the Western Conference, six points out of the playoffs.
The struggles have prompted the Wild to explore possible trades, the Star Tribune reports. Sources tell beat writer Michael Russo that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher is faced with the difficult decision of fighting through the slump with Kuemper and Backstrom or making a trade that could ultimately result in a short-term fix and no guarantee of making the playoffs.
"Some names potentially on the market? Carolina’s Cam Ward, the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champ, San Jose’s Antti Niemi, Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth, Edmonton’s Viktor Fasth and St. Louis’ Martin Brodeur."
The most exciting name of the bunch is Ward, who after consecutive injury-plauged seasons, has been one of very few bright spots in Carolina this season. Ward, on a bad team, owns a very respectable 2.37 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage, according to Hockey Reference.
Ward's GAA ranks just behind Kings star and Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick.
Russo reports the Wild have reached out to the Hurricanes with interest in Ward.
In 29 games (28 starts) for the San Jose Sharks, Niemi has posted a 2.51 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Frustration within the team met the public eye on Wednesday when head coach Mike Yeo was caught on camera screaming at the team during a lackluster practice.