In the summer of 2006, the Minnesota Wild made one of the most important transactions in franchise history. It didn't happen on July 1, when free agency kicked off and the club landed Keith Carney, Kim Johnsson and Mark Parrish in an unprecedented spending spree.
It actually happened a month earlier, when the club signed a little known (at least around Minnesota) free agent goaltender named Niklas Backstrom
. That goaltender has since become a Vezina trophy finalist and the club's all-time leader in wins.
While it's too early to predict if today's signing of free agent German goaltender Dennis Endras
will will yield the same results as the arrival of Backstrom, Wild Director of Professional Scouting Blair Mackasey is very excited about the newest addition to the team's goaltending corps.
"Dennis is very athletic and competitive," said Mackasey, who saw Endras play at the 2010 IIHF World Championship. "He had an outstanding season last year, and we're excited to land him. Right now, he gives us depth at the goaltender position and in time, he should develop into a starting NHL goalie."
Endras joins the Wild on a one-year, two-way contract for the 2010-2011 season. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Endras will spend the upcoming season with his team in the German Hockey League (DEL) "for further development." He will "come over full-time for the 2011-2012 season."
Endras was highly sought after by NHL clubs coming off a spectacular showing at the World Championship held in his home country of Germany.
The 24-year-old stopper was named MVP of the tournament while leading Germany to a fourth place finish, its highest ranking since it claimed a silver medal in 1953. He went 4-2 and led all goaltenders with a 1.15 goals against average and a .961 save percentage. He was also named the tournament's Best Goaltender and earned a spot on the World Championship All Star team.
Some may recall that it was Endras who stymied Team USA (and assistant coach Todd Richards) in the first game of the tournament in front of a world record crowd of 76,152 at Veltins Arena. Endras stopped 31 of 32 shots as Germany won in overtime, 2-1.
The 6-foot, 168 pounder led the Augsburger Panther to the finals of the DEL last season, posting a 28-24 record with a 3.28 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 52 regular season contests. He was 8-6 with a 2.36 GAA and a .937 save percentage in 14 playoff games. He was also a member of Germany's 2010 Olympic team in Vancouver, but didn't see any action behind Thomas Greiss of the San Jose Sharks.
Endras will be the fourth goalie attending the Wild's Development Camp next week, joining Johan Gustafsson
, Matt Hackett
and Darcy Kuemper