There's been some speculation and a lot of opinions about whether the Wild will keep Niklas Backstrom, trade for a goalie, or possibly trade up for a first round pick. The Wild need to address their situation in net. GM Chuck Fletcher has stated that securing a number 1 goaltender is their top priority.
Backstrom is 35 years old and a free agent this summer. He can still play, but is getting older and has had a tough time remaining consistent. According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Finnish sensation Antti Raanta has now decided who he wants to play with. Raanta said earlier in the week that he would make a decision by Friday as to who he will play with in the NHL. Reports yesterday say that he has made a decision, but has not announced specifically which team.
There are three teams that are supposedly in the running to snatch Raanta: The Columbus Bluejackets, Edmonton Oilers, and The Minnesota Wild. There were rumors going around this evening that Minnesota has fallen out of the Raanta sweepstakes, but no one has been able to officially confirm and report it.
Raanta had a sensational year in Finland. He took home the MVP, Best Goalies Honors, and also won the Jarri Kurri Trophy ( similar to the NHL's Con Smythe Award). He posted a 21-10-11 record with a 1.85 goals against average and a .943 save percentage. His performance in the playoffs were even more impressive, Recording a great 1.45 goals against average and a .955 save percentage.
Antti Raanta has showed a lot of promise at age 24. The Wild have shown some serious interest in the Finnish net minder and you have to think that if the Wild do land Raanta, Bakstrom's future with the Wild may be very dim and bleak. If the WIld manage to sign Raanta, he could be the no. 1 goaltender for many years to come. He is a special player with a ton of skill and could provide an additional spark to an already angry and motivated Wild club.
I will be updating on this story as soon as I find out more as it develops. In other news, the Hawks took down the Kings in their game 1 by a score of 2-1. The Bruins were able to shut out the top seeded Penguins, winning game 1 3-0. At the end of the 2nd period, Evgeni Malkin dropped the gloves for a short scrap with Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron.