Wild trade goalie Niklas Backstrom to Calgary for front-line depth

In a surprise trade deadline move, the Minnesota Wild on Monday unloaded veteran goalie Niklas Backstrom, who has not appeared in a game this season, to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward David Jones.

Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) warms up before a November 2013 game against the Washington Capitals in Washington. (File / Chuck Myers/MCT)

In a surprise trade deadline move, the Minnesota Wild on Monday unloaded veteran goalie Niklas Backstrom, who has not appeared in a game this season, to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward David Jones.

The move ends Backstrom’s 10-year tenure with the Wild. He leaves with more career wins than any goalie in franchise history - his record was 194-142-50 - a 2.48 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

“I just want to recognize everything Niklas Backstrom has done for this franchise,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “He’s the winningest goalie in team history, won a lot of games for this club and really competed hard for us over the years.”

His exit, however, was a long time coming and often uncomfortable.

After he struggled early last season, the Wild traded for goalie Devan Dubnyk, who backstopped the team’s rally into the postseason and earned a six-year contract in the offseason.


Unable to buy out Backstrom’s contract because the goalie said he was injured during the summer, the Wild were saddled with carrying his $3.416 million cap hit this season.

“(He) was very professional this year in trying circumstances, and I just give him a lot of credit for putting the team first and practicing hard every day and being a good teammate,” Fletcher said. “The trade was made in part to help us but also hopefully to give Nik an opportunity to get some game action this season and hopefully rejuvenate his career.”

The Wild threw in a sixth-round draft pick in this summer’s draft to get the deal done. Fletcher said the trade was not completed until the final few minutes leading up to Monday’s 2 p.m. trade deadline.

In return, the Wild bolstered their forward depth as they make a push toward the playoffs. Jones, 31, has nine goals and six assists with Calgary in 59 games this season.

“David brings really good experience to our team,” Fletcher said. “He has good size, (and) he’s a player that has scored over 100 career goals in over 400 games. During his career, he’s scored 20 goals before in a season a couple times, so he’s a player that brings versatility; he can move and up down the lineup.”

Jones is expected to arrive in St. Paul on Tuesday, though it is unclear whether he will play in the Wild’s home game Tuesday night against Colorado.

The Wild’s acquisition of Jones was their only NHL move on a relatively quiet trade deadline day.

Fletcher said he spoke with several teams regarding potential trades and while no “hockey trades” - where players with contract years remaining - were completed, discussions Monday might lead to something in the offseason.


“There may be some groundwork that was laid for the summer,” Fletcher said. “I’m not sure. We’ll see. At the end of the day, I’m comfortable with where we’re at. We explored a lot of different things, and we were able to acquire a quality veteran player in David Jones, and hopefully we were able to help Nik Backstrom.”

There was plenty of speculation that the Wild might trade defenseman Jonas Brodin for a young forward, but Fletcher said he was never shopping Brodin.

“I think the speculation was greater than the reality,” Fletcher said. “Certainly we’ve had some players where I’ve received a lot of calls. Brodin is a heck of a hockey player, and we were never shopping him. I can’t stop teams from calling me and expressing interest in a 22-year-old defenseman that plays the game that he plays. Those are usually in high demand, and you’re going to get a lot of calls on good hockey players. But it was never about trying to trade him.”

In order to complete the trade, Backstrom, 38, had to agree to the deal since his contract comes with a no-move clause.

Backstrom agreed, Fletcher said, because the goalie believes he can continue playing beyond this season. He will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“Nik made it known to me through (his agent) Jay (Grossman) and also in person that he would like to try to play hockey again next year, and he wanted to try to get some games,” Fletcher said. “He understood that Devan and Darcy (Kuemper) were here, but if something could work out, he would be open to discussing it.”

Fletcher opted against trading for any other “rental” players like Jones, whose contracts expire this summer.

“The last couple of weeks - even, I’d say, three weeks - we’ve started playing much better,” Fletcher said. “We’re right in the thick of it, and our depth is very good. So I’m excited to see what we can do the last 19 games here.”

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