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Wild Place Goaltender Josh Harding On Waivers

The Minnesota Wild have taken goaltender Josh Harding off of “injured reserve”, and removed him from a “team suspension”, and placed him on waivers. The Wild goaltender has been out for the past eleven months with related problems due to multiple sclerosis, and recently in this past pre-season, a broken foot. He was suspended for the incident, where he kicked a wall, for being involved in an “non-hockey related” injury.

Being off the ice for so long, and with the battle with multiple sclerosis the Wild felt that Harding needs more than a simple two-week long conditioning stint in the AHL before he is ready to play in the NHL.  They also made the choice to not carry three goaltenders on the 23-man roster, and are moving forward with veteran Niklas Backstrom, and young Darcy Kuemper for the time being.

The 30- year-old Regina, Saskatchewan native had a career year last season appearing in 29 games posting an 18-7-3 record, a league leading 1.65 goals against average and league leading .933 save percentage.

He has a $2.1 million contract, which holds an annual cap hit of $1.9 million. Currently the Wild have over $6 million of cap space, so they weren’t really “up-against-it” and were not “desperate” for cap relief. If Harding clears waivers, he will have to report to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.

If he is not claimed by another NHL team, the Wild still owe him his full salary, but will get $900,000 in cap relief.  Harding will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher had this to say about the organizational move, that was made today:

“His focus and goal is to get back and be a quality NHL goaltender again, so it’s another step for him,” and “The reality is he hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 31. He missed training camp and the first month-and-a-half this season, and that’s a lot of time for any player to miss. Our main goal now is to help him successfully regain his form of last season, and assuming he clears waivers, we felt this move would best help facilitate that. There’s really no sense in putting a timetable on how long it’ll take him to get ready. This move allows us to just give him the time that he needs to get his game back.

“A two-week conditioning stint, that to me made no sense. He needs to play games. Let’s just get him to Iowa and get him going and not have any artificial timetable attached to it. Things change so quickly as we’ve seen the past several seasons with any situation, never mind our goaltending situation. So our thought right now is let’s just get him down, get him a part of the group and let him get a chance to get his game going, so when we do need him, he’s ready to go. We’ll see how things play out.”

“We didn’t have interest in carrying three goalies on a 23-man roster, particularly with the mumps or whatever the heck it is ripping through us. We’ve had two situations now with [Christian] Folin and [Marco] Scandella where they haven’t had to go on IR, so roster flexibility played a part in this. This is the best move, to get him playing without any artificial timetable attached to it.”

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