The Minnesota Wild's goaltending situation is on thin ice. On Tuesday, it was reported that Josh Harding suffered an off-ice injury that would keep him out of the start of training camp, which opens on Friday.
As it turns out, Harding's injury is much worse. He has a broken foot.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told the Pioneer Press that Harding's injury is a "blow to the team" and it will keep him out for an extended period of time. How much time? TSN's Bob McKenzie says months.
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reports Harding "was apparently" injured in "some kind of incident or altercation with a teammate." Fletcher didn't provide details of what happened, but he planned to meet with Harding Wednesday.
With Harding hurting, Niklas Backstrom is the only healthy goaltender on the roster. Darcy Kuemper remains unsigned.
While contract negotiations with Kuemper remain unsuccessful, the Wild could explore the possibility of signing a free-agent or making a trade. Russo says the Wild have already reached out to Illya Brzgalov's agent. Bryzgalov was traded to Minnesota late last season and helped the team reach the playoffs. Free agents Martin Brodeur and Tomas Voukon are also available.
Head coach Mike Yeo also said he's frustrated that Kuemper hasn't signed, indicating that Kuemper has a chance to win the full-time job.
“I’m very frustrated about that to be honest with you," Yeo said. "We’re doing what we can here. I understand that there’s both sides to this, but I’m looking at it from our team standpoint, and there’s a very good opportunity there for someone like Kuemps to come in and really prove that he can be a full-time NHL goalie."
"This is an unbelievable opportunity for him," Yeo added.