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Jarrod32

Fernandez and Backstrom...

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Wild re-sign goalie Niklas Backstrom to US$6.2-million, two-year contract

Canadian Press Jun 7, 2007, 4:05 PM EDT (CP) - It looks like the Minnesota Wild might enter another NHL season with two top goalies.

The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Niklas Backstrom to a US$6.2-million, two-year contract, but that doesn't mean Manny Fernandez is going anywhere.

General manager Doug Risebrough plans to keep both goalies around even though Fernandez expressed a desire to be traded a little over a week ago.

During a conference call to announce Backstrom's signing, Risebrough was asked if it was possible to go through another season with two top goalies splitting time.

"It's possible," he said. "I don't know how it'll work out, but it's certainly possible . . .

"That is the attempt to what we're trying to do right now."

Backstrom's contract includes a no-trade clause for the first season and a partial no-trade after that. Fernandez has two years remaining on a deal that counts $4.33 million against the Wild's cap annually.

Both goalies were in Ottawa during the Stanley Cup final last week to accept the Jennings Trophy for having the lowest goals-against average in the NHL and looked slightly uncomfortable while on stage together.

The award presentation had come just days after Fernandez told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he was eager to be traded to "break free of these chains" that had been placed around him.

Backstrom said Thursday that he wouldn't mind having Fernandez back in Minnesota alongside him.

"You have to fight for your spot," said Backstrom. "You have to earn your playing time.

"That's the only thing I can control is in how good of shape I'm coming to training camp and how ready I'm going to be to fight for that spot."

The 29-year-old earned the spot last year when Fernandez injured his left knee in late January. Backstrom made the most of the opportunity.

Backstrom tied a Wild franchise record with five shutouts and he did it in just 41 games. He finished the year with a 23-8-6 record and led the entire league with a 1.97 goals-against average.

He also started all five of Minnesota's playoff games.

Not bad for a guy who spent a decade playing in his native Finland before signing a $750,000, one-year contract with Minnesota last June.

"I have to pinch myself, it's like living a dream," said Backstrom. "I was surprised how fast and smooth everything went last season.

"It's really easy to say that I was a lucky goalie who got the chance to come to the right team."

It's been a little less ideal for Fernandez.

He's an original member of the Wild, having been acquired in a trade from Dallas at the 2000 draft. Fernandez split time with Dwayne Roloson for five years before Roloson was dealt to Edmonton in March 2006.

He entered this season as the No. 1 goalie and had pretty good numbers before suffering his injury. Risebrough says Fernandez has always been ready to play when needed.

"I think he's a different guy to manage," said Risebrough. "He's a competitor. He's an emotional guy. That just means different things, but Manny's just as proud about being a goalie . . .

"When you look at his record, his stats, this is a guy that is an effective player at his position."

Constantly having another good goalie on his team has made the 33-year-old Fernandez better during his career, according to Risebrough.

He thinks that Fernandez will accept sharing the crease with Backstrom next year.

"I think Manny's felt the benefits of competition," said Risebrough. "It's probably not something that he envisioned a year ago, but it's a decision that I've made and it's a decision that I think is in the best interest of the team.

"And Manny's part of this team."

The Wild also have 22-year-old Josh Harding among their stable of goaltenders.

Risebrough likes the idea of having two solid goaltenders in case of injuries like the one Fernandez suffered last season.

"I've always been amazed that teams would have one good goalie and how little vulnerability they've had," said Risebrough. "Ironically, it did happen to us.

"Fortunately, Nik rose to the occasion."

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I think Fernandez will be dealt either for a draft pick or a big defenseman.

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I think he'll get dealt, too...but whether it happens before the season, or sometime mid-season next year remains to be seen.

I could see them waiting to make sure Backstrom can repeat his performance before dealing Manny.

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It just doesn't matter IMO. I think Harding is better than both of them!

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Report tonight that Manny was traded to the Bruins:

Report: Fernandez dealt to Bruins

ESPN.com news services

Updated: June 30, 2007, 10:43 PM ET

The Minnesota Wild agreed to trade goaltender Manny Fernandez to the Boston Bruins Saturday for Czech forward Petr Kalus, according to reports from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The move of Fernandez, who is scheduled to make $4.33 million next year, was considered eminent after the Wild re-signed goalie Niklas Backstrom to a two-year contract worth $6.2 million on June 8, according to the report.

Although the trade has yet to be announced, the paper reports an announcement will be made once both parties receive league approval.

Fernandez was one of the original members of the Wild franchise. He posted a 22-16-1 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage before injuring his left knee. His abscence opened the door for the 29-year-old Backstrom to lead the Wild to the franchises' first playoff appearance.

Kalus, the 39th pick in the 2005 draft, scored four goals and had an assist in nine games for the Bruins.

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Ahem second wild playoff appearance.

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Quote:

His abscence opened the door for the 29-year-old Backstrom to lead the Wild to the franchises' first playoff appearance.


FIRST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE??? huh?????

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ESPN is so pathetic, they seem as if they could care less about hockey. Poor Melrose.

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Quote:

ESPN is so pathetic, they seem as if they could care less about hockey. Poor Melrose.


I think they are a little salty as the rest of are that ESPN didn't get the NHL TV contract which as we know now was a catastrophic blunder on the NHL's part.

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ESPN barely made a bid for the NHL contract. They coulda had it if they wanted it. Its too bad for the NHL that they didn't get on ESPN. Kinda hard to reach new fans and casual fans when you're not on a major network.

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Not being on ESPN really set hockey back trying to get fans envolved. I didn't get half the wild play off games, I had to scramble finding someone that could get the game.

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