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Wild expect goaltender Harding back for camp

Saturday, 06.07.2014 / 5:35 PM / News

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Wild expect goaltender Harding back for camp
Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding is expected back in time for training camp, according to general manager Chuck Fletcher.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding is expected to be healthy and ready to play in time for training camp, general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday.

Harding left the Wild on Dec. 31 to deal with symptoms related to his multiple sclerosis. Before his illness forced him from the lineup, Harding was enjoying a breakout season, going 18-7-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. After missing several weeks, Harding skated with the Wild during the Stanley Cup Playoffs but never made it back into the lineup before Minnesota was eliminated in the Western Conference Second Round.

"I think his battles are well chronicled and well known. I think he's feeling well at this point in time," Fletcher said. "The goal for him is, much like last summer, to build up and get to a point where he'll be able to come into training camp and play well. There's been nothing that I've heard of to lead me to not believe that to be the case."

Veteran Niklas Backstrom and rookie Darcy Kuemper, each of whom was the Wild's No. 1 goalie before being forced from the lineup by an injury, also will be back in time for training camp, Fletcher said. The GM was especially encouraged by Backstrom, Minnesota's all-time wins leader who reclaimed the job when Harding was sidelined but had his season end Jan. 30 when he sustained an abdominal injury that eventually required surgery.

"His rehab has gone really well. He's feeling better now than he did at any point last season, including training camp," Fletcher said of Backstrom. "We expect he'll be able to go full out, full pads by late July or early August, leaving him plenty of time to be ready for training camp. He's in a really good spot right now."

Ilya Bryzgalov, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers prior to the NHL Trade Deadline and became the starter late in the regular season and into the playoffs after Kuemper sustained a concussion, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1 and is not expected back.

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres