Star Tribune

Wild inquires about L.A. backup goalie

Chuck Fletcher has said he would like to re-sign Niklas Backstrom, but the GM is keeping other options open.

Article by: Michael Russo , Star Tribune

Updated: June 22, 2013 - 7:53 AM

 

While the Wild continues to talk to Niklas Backstrom about a new contract, General Manager Chuck Fletcher is investigating options to potentially replace the team’s goaltender of seven seasons.

The Wild has conducted trade talks with the Los Angeles Kings regarding goalie Jonathan Bernier, league sources confirmed. In a season-ending meeting with Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Bernier was promised a chance to become a No. 1 goalie elsewhere.

The 24-year-old has been relegated to backup duty behind Jonathan Quick, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP last year when Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup.

Other teams in the mix are Philadelphia and Toronto, Canadian sports channel RDS reported Friday. The New York Islanders are reported to be interested as well.

Bernier, a restricted free agent, recently fired his agent and hired Pat Brisson, who has several high-profile clients. The Kings would like to trade Bernier before the June 30 draft in Newark, N.J.

“Dean is down to a few teams, and I know he has the right intentions for Jonathan,” Brisson said Friday.

Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall and goalie coach Bill Ranford, both former successful NHL goalies, believe Bernier has the ability to be a No. 1 goalie, so Los Angeles is looking for significant value.

The Wild traded its 2013 first-round pick to Buffalo in April’s Jason Pominville deal. But the Wild has prospects to trade, with the Kings looking for a left winger. The Kings also would want a backup goalie in return and have asked for Darcy Kuemper, a source confirmed. The Wild traded third-string goalie Matt Hackett to the Sabres in the ­Pominville deal.

Bernier is 29-20-6 in 62 career appearances with a 2.36 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He is 3-1-2 against the Wild with a 1.14 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. Three of his six career shutouts are against the Wild.

Fletcher has said his priority is to re-sign Backstrom, and Backstrom, 35, wants to return. But salary-cap space is limited, so the Wild might decide to trade for a long-term No. 1 goalie or decide whether Kuemper or Johan Gustafsson can eventually take the reins.

The Wild has also expressed interest in Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, who backstopped Pittsburgh to the 2009 Stanley Cup but has struggled in the playoffs the past two seasons and was ultimately unseated by Tomas Vokoun in this year’s playoffs. Fleury has not asked for a trade, however.

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